Your Fourth of July Barbecue Is Going to Cost More Than Last Year’s

The price of an average Independence Day cookout is up 5.4 percent from 2013, according to a new survey.

National Journal
Marina Koren
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Marina Koren
July 2, 2014, 1 a.m.

Cel­eb­rat­ing Amer­ica’s birth­day is go­ing to cost a few ex­tra bucks this year.

The price of an av­er­age sum­mer cookout is up 5.4 per­cent com­pared with last year, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey re­leased Tues­day by the Amer­ic­an Farm Bur­eau Fed­er­a­tion, a farm­ing ad­vocacy group. The group sent 83 vo­lun­teers in 25 states to gro­cery stores to check re­tail prices of bar­be­cue fa­vor­ites: hot dogs, bur­gers, ketch­up, potato salad, and more.

They es­tim­ated the cost of a bar­be­cue for 10 people this sum­mer to be $58.72, about $3 more than last year’s total, ac­cord­ing to the vo­lun­teers’ es­tim­ates. The in­crease is largely due to soar­ing prices for the center­piece of cookouts: meat. This year, the cost of ground beef is up 13.4 per­cent, from $7.86 to $8.91 per two pounds, the sur­vey found. The price of pork spareribs has also in­creased, by 13.2 per­cent, from $12.29 to $13.91 per four pounds.

The most re­cent avail­able num­bers from the Bur­eau of Labor Stat­ist­ics, from this past May, put the price of re­tail beef slightly lower, at an av­er­age of $7.70 per two pounds. Still, U.S. re­tail beef prices are cur­rently at an all-time high, thanks to the coun­try’s shrink­ing cattle herd, which is at its smal­lest size in 63 years. The Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment pre­dicts beef pro­duc­tion will drop 5.4 per­cent this year, hit­ting a 20-year low — and prob­ably drive up bur­ger prices next Fourth of Ju­ly, too.

The bar­be­cue food that saw the biggest price in­crease is the most Amer­ic­an of cheeses, Amer­ic­an cheese. That’s up 14.3 per­cent, from $2.73 to $3.12 per pound, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey. BLS data put the av­er­age price of Amer­ic­an cheese in U.S. cit­ies even high­er, at $4.52 per pound.

The Amer­ic­an Farm Bur­eau Fed­er­a­tion sur­vey found that prices of oth­er bar­be­cue staples, like potato salad, hot dog and ham­burger buns, mus­tard, and wa­ter­mel­on, re­mained about the same as last year. Hot dog them­selves, however, are 2.6 per­cent cheap­er this sum­mer, now $2.23 per pound in­stead of $2.29, ac­cord­ing to the AF­BF. Lem­on­ade prices also went down slightly, they found, by 3.4 per­cent, from $2.07 to $2 per half-gal­lon.

One cru­cial cookout item, however, ap­pears to be get­ting cheap­er and cheap­er. And, thank­fully, it’s the na­tion’s fa­vor­ite con­di­ment. The price of ketch­up is down 12 per­cent, from $1.55 per 20-ounce bottle last year to $1.36 this year, the AF­BF found.

While your bar­be­cue may be a bit more ex­pens­ive this week­end over­all, the cost per per­son re­mains just un­der $6, like last year. That’s, of course, be­fore all the booze.

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