Barbecue costs up ahead of 4th of July, ways to save

As the 4th of July approaches, many Americans are preparing to fire up their grills and host cookouts for friends and family. But as prices surge across the board, hosting a barbecue is costlier than it was this time last year.

The cost of the average Independence Day cookout for 10 people is 17% more expensive than last year, coming in at a total cost of $69.68, according to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation. That’s an increase of more than $10 from the 2021 sum of $59.50.

One staple cookout ingredient, ground beef, saw the largest year-to-year price increase. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates that two pounds of ground beef costs an average of $11.12, up more than a third from last year.

Other popular cookout items highlighted in the survey, including chicken breasts, pork chops, potato salad, lemonade, pork & beans, hamburger buns and cookies, also rose in price.

Farmers are also feeling the pain of the price surge. Supply chain blunders, worker shortages and inflation have all factored into price increases, and created a volatile market for farmed goods.

“We continue to experience really uncertain and unpredictable times,” said Laura Strange, the senior vice president of communications and external affairs at the National Grocers Association. “What we’ve seen is kind of the perfect storm of input costs and a tight labor market that have led to price increases across the supply chain.”

Increases in the cost of diesel fuel, food packaging and other raw materials makes it more costly to get food from the farm to your fork, she said.

“Like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,” said Roger Cryan, chief economist at the American Farmer Bureau Federation, in a statement. “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.”

But even amid high grocery costs, Strange said, there are ways consumers can still take advantage of savings.

She recommends shoppers sign up for their local grocery store’s loyalty program, where grocers offer exclusive sales on sought-after items.

She also said to shop early — one to two weeks in advance of a major holiday when possible — to reap the benefits of promotional sales when demand is highest.

On top of utilizing goods you already have in your home, Strange also recommends looking at private-label items for certain dishes instead of spending your whole grocery bill splurging on name-brands.

When cookout shopping, “you might want to indulge on some of the meat whereas you could potentially look at other opportunities for savings on some of the side items,” she said.

While this year’s cookout costs less than $7 per party guest, prices can vary at different grocery retailers and impact consumer’s pockets differently. Strange recommends exploring local stores that may offer food deals that big name suppliers don’t.

“Look at a local community independent grocer or to check them out ahead of the season. You might see some additional specialty food items that are unique to that one grocer.”

Lauren Hamilton

Lauren Hamilton is an Associate Producer at WTOP and a graduate of the University of Maryland. She enjoys covering the intersection of arts, culture and social justice in local communities. She began as an intern with WTOP in the summer of 2021.

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