Prepare to pay more if you’re hosting the 4th of July cookout this year. The cost of a typical holiday cookout menu jumped 17% higher than last year, according to a new survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Expect to pay around $7 per person for the favorite Independence Day cookout menu, including cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. The average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $69.68, a result of ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation and the war in Ukraine.
This weekend, Americans will consume around 190 million pounds of beef and pork and 750 million pounds of chicken, with much of it prepared on the backyard barbeque, according to USDA.
The AFBF survey shows the largest year-to-year price increase for ground beef. The retail price for two pounds of ground beef currently averages $11.12, up 36% from last year. Several other foods in the survey, including chicken breasts, pork chops, homemade potato salad, fresh-squeezed lemonade, pork and beans, hamburger buns and cookies, also increased in price.
One bright spot for consumers is the average retail price for strawberries, which declined by 86 cents compared to a year ago. Sliced cheese and potato chips also dropped in price, 48 cents and 22 cents, respectively. Better weather conditions in some fruit-growing regions and greater retailer pricing flexibility for processed products are the likely drivers behind the modest price declines for these items.
The year-to-year direction of the survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home and general inflation across the economy showing increases of more than 10% compared to year-ago levels.
Watch for deals
Despite the price hikes this year, experts say wise food shoppers may be pleasantly surprised by meat prices they find this week at some supermarkets.
Each year, USDA economists do a price check on standard cheeseburger ingredients from the grocery store -- including ground beef, bread, cheddar cheese, tomato and iceburg lettuce. USDA economist Megan Sweitzer says the total cost of one quarter-pound burger increased to $2.07 from $1.86 at this time last year, roughly an 11% increase. The ground beef portion of the cheeseburger price is the most expensive ingredient, and it saw a 17% increase this year.
However, you may not actually be paying that much more this year. USDA livestock analyst Shayle Shagam has been taking a look at grocery sales and advertisements from around the country. From what he has seen across holiday sales, ground chuck prices are averaging less this year at $3.37 per pound compared to $3.71 in 2021.
Beef cuts and pork are also showing lower prices in sale flyers compared to last year, but chicken is a different story. The avian influenza outbreak has resulted in the loss of around 40 million chickens and turkeys around the country, taking a significant toll on poultry prices.
The farmers’ share
Like consumers, farmers are feeling the price-point pain too, according to AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan.
“Despite higher food prices, the supply chain disruptions and inflation have made farm supplies more expensive,” says Cryan. Like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,”
“Bottom line, in many cases the higher prices farmers are being paid aren’t covering the increase in their farm expenses,” Cryan notes. “The cost of fuel is up and fertilizer prices have tripled.”
The Agriculture Department’s Producer Price Index indicates farm-level cattle prices are up 17.5%, but wholesale beef prices are down 14% year-over-year – even through retail prices are up 36% for ground beef at the grocery store.
“According to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series, farmers currently receive approximately 8% of every food marketing dollar,” Cryan said. “The farmers’ share of the retail food dollar is as low as 2% to 4% for highly processed foods such as bread and cereal, and can be 35% or more for some fresh products.”
“The increased cost of food and supplies is a very real concern in our country and across the globe,” says Zippy Duvall, AFBF President. “U.S. food assistance programs and food banks help those who struggle to make ends meet here at home, but the story is much different around the globe as food insecurity skyrockets.”
The big impact of the war in Ukraine shows how dependent the world is on stable, productive agriculture, Duvall adds.
Data for this year’s AFBF survey was collected by 176 volunteer shoppers across the country and in Puerto Rico, including Farm Bureau members and others.