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The rising cost of fuel is driving up prices at military commissaries worldwide, Defense Commissary officials said Thursday.

"Like any retail operation in the grocery industry today, we are not insulated from market conditions that are affected by rising fuel costs and other external economic factors," said Kevin Robinson, a DeCA spokesman in Virginia.

Still, he pointed out, commissary customers tend to pay about one-third less for similar goods sold at off-base retailers.

"What is important to note, however, is that commissaries do not change prices unilaterally to reflect these economic conditions, but rather ‘pass on’ price increases as they are received from manufacturers and suppliers," Robinson said.

Basically, if manufacturers boost prices, so do commissaries.

"Generally, this proportionate change in cost of goods is passed on to consumers who shop in commercial supermarkets as well," Robinson said. "Of course, the difference between a military commissary and a commercial store is that we don’t sell for a profit."

Cheaper prices, and a good selection of products are the reasons Mike Kennedy and his family shop at the commissary in Naples, Italy.

"I think the commissary is pretty good. They have a good selection in all of the departments, like the meat department," said Kennedy, who arrived in Naples a week ago as the civilian manager of data infrastructure for the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station.

Even while living in Pennsylvania, before moving overseas, the Kennedys often shopped at the commissary at Fort Detrick, Md., to take advantage of the cheaper prices, he said.

Additionally, the slumping value of the U.S. dollar against the euro serves as another incentive for them to shop American — or at least on base, added his wife, Michelle Kennedy.

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