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U.S.-China Trade War Creating Cheaper Prices In Arizona Grocery Stores

By Tom Maxedon
Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 8:52pm
Audio icon Download mp3 (1.29 MB)

Like ham?

Prices could be dropping, courtesy of President Donald Trump.

Julie Murphree, spokeswoman for the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, said the trade war with China has resulted in the country putting new tariffs on U.S. pork products. At last count, the tariffs hit 60 percent.

And what that means, Murphree said, is that U.S. producers of pork are now sitting on products that they used to export before it became too expensive for Chinese consumers to buy.

That's a lot of pigs. CNBC reports that one out of every four hogs raised in the U.S. is shipped overseas, with a large percentage going to China — at least until now.

"There is the possibility that it will benefit you and I as the consumer because if we're losing out on our global market we've got plenty of supply,'' Murphree said.

But other factors could work the other way.

"We lost thousands of animals to the flooding,'' Murphree said of the effects of Hurricane Florence that hit the Carolinas.

Still, if what Farm Bureau surveyors are finding at Arizona grocery stores is any indication, the prices are being pushed down.

A year ago, a pound of sliced deli ham was selling for $4.29 a pound.

Then Trump put tariffs on Chinese steel. They retaliated with a 25 percent duty on pork.

That dropped ham prices found in Arizona to $3.49 a pound.

Since then the tariffs have been hiked to more than 60 percent in what has become a tit-for-tat process between the U.S. and China.

Bacon is selling for $4.69 a pound. While that's up 30 cents from last quarter, it's still 88 cents less than a year ago.

Overall, the quarterly survey of 16 basic grocery items had a price tag of $46.13. That's 77 cents less than last quarter and $2.37 less than a year ago.

The prices reflect what Farm Bureau shoppers found at grocery stores around the state who took advantage of advertised sales when available. But it does not include other discounts some stores make available to those who have "affinity'' cards connected to the chain.