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.
What We're Following See More »
A Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, one of several such islands at the center of territorial disputes with other nearby nations. The U.S. called it a "freedom of navigation exercise." Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang "said China had lodged stern representations to the U.S over the patrol and that such moves were not conducive to peace and stability in the South China Sea."
"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican candidate for the state's lone House seat, was cited for misdemeanor assault Wednesday night after he allegedly body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. Jacobs entered a room in which Gianforte was preparing to give an interview to Fox News, and asked Gianforte about the recently released CBO score on health care legislation, at which point, according to an account from Fox News's Alicia Acuna, Gianforte put both hands around Jacobs's neck and slammed him to the ground. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office put out a statement saying there was probable cause for the citation but not the injuries required for it to be considered a felony. Gianforte's aide put out an erroneous statement saying Jacobs grabbed Gianforte by the wrist after aggressively putting a recorder in Gianforte's face.