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Evaluating Food Price Disparities in Alaska: A Comprehensive Analysis

May 31 @ 1:30 pm 3:00 pm

Join Mike Jones and Vanessa Collier from the University of Alaska Anchorage (ISER) for a detailed analysis of food price disparities across Alaska. This study examines the seasonal dynamics of food prices, comparing absolute and relative disparities between Anchorage and remote Alaskan communities. Insights from this research provide crucial information for understanding food security challenges and broader geographic cost differentials in the region.

The analysis, conducted through scraping online retail web data, reveals pricing parity among key urban centers such as Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, while highlighting varied pricing strategies in rural areas. Notably, block pricing in Southwest Alaska contrasts with incremental cost-based pricing in Southeast Alaska, emphasizing the impact of transportation costs on food pricing. The study also explores the comparative seasonal variations in food prices between Anchorage and remote regions, offering insights into the nuances of price disparities across the state. This comprehensive analysis not only illuminates the complexities of food pricing in Alaska but also provides valuable data to inform policy decisions addressing these disparities.

Don’t miss this opportunity to gain critical insights into Alaska’s food economy.

Abstract Text

Introduction/Background: This study presents a detailed analysis of seasonally dynamic food price disparities across Alaska. We model these large disparities in absolute and relative terms between Anchorage and remote Alaskan communities, providing key insight for food security and broader geographic cost differential analysis.  This disparity underscores the unique economic and logistical challenges faced by remote Alaskan areas.

Methods: Prices were scraped through online retail web data of larger scale, broadly represented rural grocery retail outlets.

Results: We reveal broad pricing parity for food products among Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, attributed to cost-averaging strategies employed by major retailers. This uniformity in pricing across these key urban centers indicates a standardized approach to food pricing, contrasting sharply with the varied pricing strategies observed in rural regions. An intriguing finding is the prevalence of block pricing in Southwest Alaska, distinct from the incremental cost-based pricing observed in Southeast Alaska. In the latter, food prices increase proportionally with the barge distance from Tacoma, WA, highlighting the impact of transportation costs on food pricing.

Additionally, a comparative analysis of price seasonality between Anchorage and remote regions is conducted, providing a nuanced understanding of how seasonal variations impact price disparities across Alaska.  This reveals divergent patterns in air-freighted perishable goods versus dry and non-food goods with seasonal river and maritime barge ability.

Conclusion/Discussion: This comprehensive analysis not only sheds light on the complexities of food pricing in Alaska but also provides critical data that could inform policy decisions aimed at addressing these disparities.

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