All-American July 4th Cookout Costs Under $6 Per Person

A cookout of Americans’ favorite foods for the Fourth of July, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk, prices out at slightly less this year, coming in at less than $6 per person, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

Why beer was not included in the calculation remains a mystery to the editors of FrozenFoodsBiz.com, but no doubt its presence in the tally would tack on a few bucks to the total.

Farm Bureau’s informal survey reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $55.70, or $5.57 per person. The cost for the cookout is down slightly (less than 1%) from last year.

“As expected, higher production has pushed retail meat prices down,” said AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton.

“Competition in the meat case is making grilling for July 4th even more affordable for consumers this year.”

Retail pork prices also declined in 2017, largely due to more pork on the market and ample supplies of other animal proteins available for domestic consumption. Lower beef prices are most likely putting downward pressure on pork prices, according to Newton.

Burgers 300AFBF’s summer cookout menu for 10 people consists of hot dogs and buns, cheeseburgers and buns, pork spare ribs, deli potato salad, baked beans, corn chips, lemonade, chocolate milk, ketchup, mustard and watermelon for dessert.

With regard to drivers behind the moderate decrease in dairy prices, Newton commented: “We continue to see stability in dairy prices because of the improving export market. Chocolate milk will be a little more affordable this July 4th, in part because some retailers are promoting it as a sports recovery drink superior to other sports drinks and water.”

He also noted the retail price of American cheese has declined due to very large inventories and a lot of competition in the cheese case.

Meanwhile, retail dairy and meat prices included in the survey are consistent with recent trends and are expected to continue to be stable.

Commenting on watermelon prices, Newton remarked: “Although US farmers continue to increase watermelon production, consumer demand has also increased, contributing to higher retail prices.”

A total of 97 Farm Bureau members in 25 states served as volunteer shoppers to check retail prices for summer cookout foods at their local grocery stores for this informal survey.

The summer cookout survey is part of the Farm Bureau marketbasket series, which also includes the annual Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Survey and two additional surveys of common food staples Americans use to prepare meals at home.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. That figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16%, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across the board, the farmer’s share of this $55.70 marketbasket would be $8.74.

AFBF is the nation’s largest general farm organization with member families in all 50 states and the unincorporated United States territory of Puerto Rico.

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