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Report: Summer cookout costs down from 10-year high

Drought conditions have increased the cost of feed and reduced the number of available cattle for the summer grilling season, driving up beef prices.

Steak Meat Hamburgers On Grill Secoura Pixabay
Secoura | PIXABAY.com

Celebrating the Fourth of July with a cookout will cost significantly more than two years ago, although prices have fallen slightly from record highs in 2022.

Families will pay $67.73 to host an Independence Day cookout with 10 family members or friends, based on the 2023 American Farm Bureau Federation marketbasket survey.

Record high prices in 2022

The $67.73 grocery bill is down 3% from 2022, but still approximately 14% higher than prices were just two years ago.

Last year set a record high since AFBF began the survey in 2013, and 2023 comes in as the second-highest cost. The cookout favorites include cheeseburgers, chicken breasts, pork chops, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream, among other products.

“The slight downward direction in the cost of a cookout doesn’t counter the dramatic increases we’ve seen over the past few years. Families are still feeling the pinch of high inflation along with other factors keeping prices high,” said AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan.

“Don’t assume farmers come out as winners from higher prices at the grocery store either. They’re price takers, not price makers, whose share of the retail food dollar is just 14%. Farmers have to pay for fuel, fertilizer and other expenses, which have all gone up in cost.”

The marketbasket survey shows a year-to-year increase in the cost of hamburger buns, beef and potato salad, while there are drops in the cost of chicken breasts, lemonade and cookies.

The retail price for a package of eight hamburger buns increased 17% to $2.26. Homemade potato salad will cost $3.44, up 5% from 2022. The cost of 2 pounds of ground beef rose 4% to $11.54.

What influences the cost increases?

Several factors influence the increases. Drought conditions have increased the cost of feed and reduced the number of available cattle for the summer grilling season, driving up beef prices.

Higher potato prices can be attributed to poor weather leading to a drop in production, and general inflation is driving up the price of processed foods like bread.

The AFBF survey found one exception to the increased price of processed foods: a package of cookies will cost 10% less than 2022.

The price of chicken breasts and eggs, which had reached record-high prices in 2022, are both lower. This is good news as the number of avian influenza cases has fallen, which has allowed chicken populations to recover. Lemonade is 16% less expensive, at $3.73, due to a drop in the cost of lemons.

Americans spend smaller percentage of income on food than other countries

Although historically high, the cost of the cookout breaks down to less than $7 per person. When put in a global context, Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than any other country.

“While the increased costs are difficult and have made it more challenging for some families to put food on the table, it’s important to remember that America still has one of the most affordable food supplies in the world, which is due in part to strong farm bill programs," said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. "As we all celebrate the holiday, we encourage members of Congress to consider the contributions of the farm bill to our security and independence by ensuring a safe and abundant food supply.”

The federal government’s broader Consumer Price Index report for food at home shows an overall increase of 5.8% compared to a year ago. Farm Bureau’s informal marketbasket survey examines only those foods commonly associated with summer cookouts.

The July 4th cookout survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series, which also includes the annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home.

Volunteer shoppers across the country, including Farm Bureau members and others, collected data from 240 different stores in every state and Puerto Rico.

Individual Prices, AFBF 2023 Summer Cookout

  • 2 pounds of ground beef, $11.54 (+4%)
  • 2 pounds of chicken breasts, $8.14 (-9%)
  • 3 pounds of pork chops, $14.37 (-6%)
  • 1 pound of cheese, $3.53 (no change)
  • 1 package of hamburger buns, $2.26 (+17%)
  • 2 ½ pounds of homemade potato salad, $3.44 (+5%)
  • 32 ounces of pork and beans, $2.44 (-3%)
  • 16-ounce bag of potato chips, $4.53 (-4%)
  • 13-ounce package of chocolate chip cookies, $3.90 (-10%)
  • ½ gallon of ice cream, $5.29 (+3%)
  • 2 pints of strawberries, $4.56 (+3%)
  • 2 ½ quarts of lemonade, $3.73 (-16%)
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