Cost of July 4th cookout 17% higher compared to year ago

It will cost more to put on a spread for that Fourth of July family gathering this year, thanks to inflation, supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine.

It will cost a bit more to put on a spread for that Fourth of July family gathering this year. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation marketbasket survey, the cost of a summer cookout will cost 17% more than last year.

U.S. consumers will pay $69.68 for a gathering of 10 people serving traditional Independence Day cookout foods, including cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream, according to the survey released June 27, 2020.

“While we are seeing the price of food increase both nationally and here at home, at just under $7 per person, this year’s summer cookout is cheaper than the average fast-food meal,” said WFBF’s Director of Media Relations and Outreach Cassie Sonnentag.

Wisconsin’s $69.74 survey price is just $0.06 higher than AFBF’s survey of similar food items. The total cost of the cookout is up 17% nationally or about $10 from last year as a result of ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Farmers are feeling the price-point pain too, like the people they grow food for, according to AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan.

“Despite higher food prices, the supply chain disruptions and inflation have made farm supplies more expensive; like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,” Cryan said. “Bottom line, in many cases the higher prices farmers are being paid aren’t covering the increase in their farm expenses. The cost of fuel is up and fertilizer prices have tripled.”

The ripple effects of the war in Ukraine also contribute to the increase; Ukraine's contributions to global food security are cut off, Russian and Belarusian fertilizer exports are constrained, and some other countries pull back exports to protect their domestic supplies.

The largest year-to-year price increase in this year's grocery cart was for ground beef. Survey results showed the retail price for 2 pounds of ground beef at $11.12, up 36% from last year. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department’s Producer Price Index indicates that compared to a year ago, farm-level cattle prices are up 17.5%, but wholesale beef prices are down 14%. This serves to highlight the differences between farm-level, wholesale and retail beef prices and how the events of the last few years have had significant impacts on the beef production and cattle pricing cycles, making them all hard to predict.

Several other foods in the survey, including chicken breasts, pork chops, homemade potato salad, fresh-squeezed lemonade, pork & beans, hamburger buns and cookies, also increased in price.

Consumers will notice that some foods on the grocery list have actually come down in price. The average retail price for strawberries 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 marketbasket survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home and general inflation across the economy. Both the index and the marketbasket show increases of more than 10% compared to year-ago levels.

“For nearly forty years, we have seen steady growth for our global food security,” Sonnentag said. “The combined disruptions we are seeing within the supply chain, inflation and the war in Ukraine have a cascading effect when it comes to the price of food.”

Commenting on big picture concerns related to food security, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said: “The increased cost of food and supplies is a very real concern in our country and across the globe. 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 a single event in Ukraine shows how dependent the world is on stable, productive agriculture.

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

Data for this year’s survey was collected by 176 volunteer shoppers across the country and in Puerto Rico, including Farm Bureau members and others.

A summer cookout for 10 people will cost nearly $70 this year, nearly $10 more than last year thanks to inflation, the war in Ukraine and supply chain disruptions.

Individual prices, 2022 Summer Cookout

  • 2 pounds of ground beef, $11.12 (+36%)
  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, $8.99 (+33%)
  • 32 ounces of pork & beans, $2.53 (+33%)
  • 3 pounds of center cut pork chops, $15.26 (+31%)
  • 2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade, $4.43 (+22%)
  • 2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad, $3.27 (+19%)
  • 8 hamburger buns, $1.93 (+16%)
  • Half-gallon of vanilla ice cream, $5.16 (+10%)
  • 13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies, $4.31 (+7%)
  • 2 pints of strawberries, $4.44 (-16%)
  • 1 pound of sliced cheese, $3.53 (-13%)
  • 16-ounce bag of potato chips, $4.71 (-4%) 

Getting the most out of cookout items

While the price of a summer cookout has increased in the past year, shoppers can take steps to ensure they are getting the most out of the food items they are purchasing. Approximately one-third of human food produced in the word is lost or wasted, so using items effectively and creatively is one way to stretch your food dollar.

“You can reduce food waste at home by sticking to your grocery list, correctly storing and creatively repurposing leftovers,” Sonnentag said. “Farmers and consumers alike can utilize every resource to maintain their bottom line and help the environment.”

Understanding food expiration dates is one way to get the most out of cookout items. Best-by and sell-by dates are provided by the processor for best quality and are often still safe to eat past the printed date.

Additionally, consider composting food waste items such as fruit and vegetable scraps with yard waste. According to a recent report from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, using or composting the amount of food sent to landfills in 2020 would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the amount of taking 600,000 cars off the road for a year.

“By proactively thinking about our food waste at home, we can all get the most out of our food while minimizing our environmental impact,” Sonnentag said.