Cost of July Fourth Cookout About the Same as Last Year

Beef, pork prices down, while strawberries account for highest price increase, Farm Bureau says
2021 July Fourth cookout cost
Graphic courtesy of American Farm Bureau Federation

WASHINGTON  Cookouts this Independence Day will cost consumers about the same as in 2020, an American Farm Bureau Federation analysis shows.

Its analysis reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 remains affordable at $59.50, or less than $6 per person. The cost is down just 16 cents (less than 1%) from last year but is 8% higher compared with 2019.

The federation looked at the cost of cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, pork and beans, strawberries, potato chips, fresh-squeezed lemonade and vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

The largest year-to-year price increase was for strawberries. Survey results showed two pints of strawberries at $5.30, up 22% from last year, due to strong demand and the effects of several weather events including severe rain, hail and high winds that caused significant setbacks to the harvest early in 2021.

Retail price changes for products in the meat case are a bit more nuanced, according to federation economist Veronica Nigh.

“Beef and pork-processing plant disruptions that occurred in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been resolved, leading to lower retail ground beef and pork chop prices in 2021 compared to 2020,” Nigh said. “However, consumers looking a bit farther back to compare prices are seeing higher prices for ground beef, pork chops and chicken breasts compared to pre-pandemic (2019) prices. That's due to continued strong demand for American-grown beef and pork from both U.S. and international consumers.”

Farmers currently receive approximately 8% of every food marketing dollar, Nigh said, citing the U.S. Department of Agricultur’s revised Food Dollar Series. “The farmer’s share of the retail food dollar is as low as 2% to 4% for highly processed foods such as bread and cereal, and as much as 35% for some fresh-market products,” he said.

This year’s survey combines Bureau of Labor Statistics food price data with results collected by more than 160 volunteer rural shoppers across the country and in Puerto Rico. The full list of foods included in the federation’s 2021 Summer Cookout survey are:

  • 2 pints of strawberries, $5.30 (up 22%)
  • 13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies, $4.02 (up 11%)
  • 8 hamburger buns, $1.66 (up 6%)
  • 2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad, $2.75 (up 3%)
  • 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, $6.74 (up 1%)
  • 32 ounces of pork and beans, $1.90 (down 13%)
  • 2 pounds of ground beef, $8.20 (down 8%)
  • Half-gallon of vanilla ice cream, $4.69 (down 5%)
  • 3 pounds of center cut pork chops, $11.63 (down 2%)
  • 2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade, $3.65 (down 2%)
  • 1 pound of sliced cheese, $4.05 (down 1%)
  • 13-ounce bag of potato chips, $4.93 (down 1%)

The Washington-based American Farm Bureau Federation is the nation’s largest general farm organization with member families in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

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