The data for the MA series are collected by surveying one outlet each of the largest food store chain, the second largest food store chain, and the largest dairy/convenience store chain in the city or metropolitan area. The same outlet is surveyed each month. The survey is conducted on one day between the first and tenth of each month, excluding Fridays and weekends. The price obtained is for the most common brand, based on shelf space, and does not represent a temporary special price, or one that is dependent on the purchase of other food items or the use of a cents-off coupon.
The determination of the largest and second largest food store chain is based on estimated sales of fluid milk products in the metropolitan area. Currently, prices are collected for whole milk and reduced fat (2%) milk, sold in gallon containers, and organic whole milk and organic reduced fat (2%) milk, sold in half-gallon containers.
When using the MA “selected cities” data series, it is important to remember exactly what this price series represents and to point out that, for a particular city, these prices are believed to be reflective of price level and change over time. However, in making city-to-city comparisons using this data series, it is important to remember that price differences may be affected by brand market share and retail pricing policy variations.