Headlines say it and grocery bills confirm it: we are paying more for food this year. With the continued supply chain disruptions, inflation and the global effects of the Ukraine war, we will feel the 4th of July picnic price “pinch” this summer.
The Price Increases
According to the recent American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) market basket survey, we will pay approximately $70 (or $69.68 to be exact) for a “typical” Independence Day cookout for 10. The AFBF market basket pricing includes three types of entrees: cheeseburgers, pork chops and chicken breasts, along with homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. The cost reflects a $10 or 17% increase from 2021. Even though higher than last year, the cost equates to less than a $7 per person — a “pinch” some can absorb while others not so much.
When looking at the individual prices in this survey, ground beef has experienced the highest price increase over the past year. In this survey, the stated retail price of $5.56 per pound reflects a 36% increase. From the ag side, farm-lever cattle prices are up about 18% but overall wholesale beef prices have fluctuated down 14%. This shows that what we as consumers pay on the retail side doesn’t always reflect significant gains for the rancher or farmer as the price of “doing business” has increased.
According to Owensboro-based beef producer and retailer Jim Gilles III, he has been able to hold his retail meat prices steady, but it can’t last. “I’ll have to raise my prices soon just to offset fuel and travel costs incurred with the transportation and processing of live animals.” As a retail market customer, he’s experiencing the same rise in prices when purchasing goods. Jim stated, “sometimes every delivery is an increase” but he also recognizes the reality of lingering COVID related problems like shutdowns, along with product packaging availability, and labor costs that contribute to the rise.
A Few Bright Spots
According to the AFBF survey, the three foods on the “picnic menu” that reflected a decrease in the average retail price over the past year included strawberries (down almost $1) while sliced cheese and potato chips were 40 and 20 cents cheaper respectively. Improved weather conditions in some of fruit-growing regions and more flexibility in retail pricing flexibility for processed foods were cited as probable reasons for the declines. Based on pricing, this is a good time to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and hold steady on the other items.
How to Lessen the “Pinch”
Food costs have increased but there are some basic guidelines that can lessen the picnic “pinch”:
- While the AFBF market basket survey reflects three entrees, choose the one or two with the best price.
- Watch protein portions. This is not a time to waste food. If we buy what we need and keep portions in line, costs can be controlled.
- Increase the fruit and vegetables for personal and financial health. With growing seasons in full swing and more stable prices, focus on the picnic sides.
Summertime, especially the 4th of July, is picnic time! Food may seem to be the centerpiece but it’s really friends and family. Lessen the “pinch” by finding what fits your budget and focus on the folks around the table. Friends and family are priceless! Happy 4th!
1. “Cost of July 4th Cookout 17% Higher Compared to Year Ago,” American Farm Bureau Federation, June 27, 2022.
2. Jim Gilles, Hillview Farms Meats