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December's 'Basket' stable

The 41 items in the Market Basket came in at $93.96, down just a few cents from $94.08 in November, and up 2 percent from last December's cost of $91.70.

The only significant changes for the month were a 4 percent and 3 percent drop on miscellaneous items and dairy products respectively. For the year, prices were up in every category except frozen foods and canned goods.

The cost of Del Monte fruit cocktail went up this month to $1.60 after dropping to $1.54 last month. The 11 percent decline on this item combined with an 11 percent decline on the cost of Starkist chunk light tuna brought the overall category down 3 percent for the year.

Meat prices were stable for the month, but up 6 percent for the year. Bottom round roast, center cut pork chops and Oscar Mayer sliced bacon are all up over 15 percent from December 2009.

In the dairy case, sales on butter brought the price down 5 percent for the month, but this item is still 50 percent higher than this time last year. Prices on skim and whole milk continued to rise and are both higher than in 2009. A 24 percent drop on the price of sliced American cheese kept the dairy category from increasing more than 2 percent overall.

Frozen foods, miscellaneous items and breads, cereals and grains remained stable for another month. For the year sugar has changed significantly in price, up 15 percent. River rice is also up, 10 percent per pound.

Produce prices were unchanged for the month and year. Increases on bananas, and onions were offset by decreases on red Delicious apples, carrots and iceberg lettuce.

Drink prices were up on coffee and tea bags for both the month and year. Coffee is up 9 percent over December 2009 prices.

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