Strong global demand, especially for pork and other protein-rich foods, was a primary driver behind higher retail prices at the supermarket during the third quarter of 2011, according to the latest American Farm Bureau Federation Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $53.12, up $1.95 or about 4 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011. Of the 16 items surveyed, 13 increased, two decreased and one remained the same in average price compared to the prior quarter.

“Global demand for meat and dairy products remains strong and continues to influence retail prices here in the U.S.,” said AFBF Economist John Anderson. “Many nations around the world rely on America to provide the food they need to improve their standard of living, particularly through the addition of protein to the diet. Strengthened demand for meats began in 2009, continued through 2010 and remains important as we look ahead to the close of 2011.”

Other factors also came into play.

“On-farm production costs for energy, fertilizer and fuel continue on an upward trend but those costs are largely borne by farmers and ranchers. But, in addition, after food leaves the farm or ranch, higher costs for transportation, marketing, processing and storage are added,” Anderson explained. “As long as these costs remain elevated, consumers will continue to feel it in the form of higher food prices at the supermarket.”