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Summer cookout-barbecue_from Erie Insurance.jpg Erie Insurance
The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates the average cost of an Independence Day cookout for 10 people this year at $59.50, down 16 cents from $59.66 in 2020.

July 4th summer cookout costs a bit less this year

American Farm Bureau pegs shopping list for 10 at about $6 per person

The typical Fourth of July cookout will cost U.S. consumers a few cents less this year, according to an analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

AFBF said Tuesday that a summer cookout for 10 people in 2021 will cost an average of $59.50, or less than $6 per person, down 16 cents (-0.2%) from $59.66 in 2020 but up 62 cents (+8%) from 2019. Of the dozen items on this year’s AFBF’s summer cookout shopping list, seven saw prices decreases and five had increases.

The 2021 cookout shopping list includes two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $6.74 (cost up 1% versus a year ago), two pounds of ground beef for $8.20 (-8%), three pounds of center-cut pork chops for $11.63 (-2%), one pound of sliced cheese for $4.05 (down 1%), an eight-pack of hamburger buns for $1.66 (+6%), 2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad for $2.75 (+3%), 32 ounces of pork and beans for $1.90 (-13%), a 13-ounce bag of potato chips for $4.93 (-1%), 2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade for $3.65 (-2%), two pints of strawberries for $5.30 (+22%), a 13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies for $4.02 (+11%) and a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream for $4.69 (-5%).

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The big price hike for fresh strawberries reflects strong demand and the effect of several weather events, including severe rain, hail and high winds that caused setbacks to the harvest early in 2021, according to AFBF. Retail price fluctuations for meat products stem in part from the impact of COVID-19.

“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,” explained AFBF economist Veronica Nigh. “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.”

AFBF’s 2021 summer cookout survey combines Bureau of Labor Statistics food price data with findings from more than 160 volunteer rural shoppers nationwide, including in Puerto Rico.

“According to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series, farmers currently receive approximately 8% of every food marketing dollar," Nigh added. “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.”

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Meanwhile, deep discount grocer Aldi said it’s offering essential barbecue foods for a summer get-together for an average of $36.61, more than 38% lower than AFBF’s Independence Day shopping basket this year and in 2020.

The July 4th shopping list from Aldi, which has more than 2,000 U.S. stores and offers mostly private labels, includes eight hot dogs (1 lb.) and buns, eight quarter-pound hamburgers (2 lbs. pre-cooked weight) and buns with cheese slices, pork spare ribs (4 lbs.), ketchup and mustard, deli potato salad (3 lbs.), baked beans (28 oz.) and corn chips (15 oz.).

“People are excited to get back together with family and friends, and we don’t want rising food costs to get in the way of summer barbecues,” commented Dave Rinaldo, co-president at Aldi U.S. “We’re already known for low prices throughout our stores, and we’re taking that a step further by lowering prices on dozens of summer favorites.”

This year, 68% of Americans expect to return to normal Independence Day celebrations as the pandemic eases, according to consumer data specialist Numerator. Of over 2,000 consumers polled, 55% plan to hold their typical July 4th celebration, whereas 37% will go smaller and 8% expect to hold a large event.

Among consumers holding July 4th celebrations, 57% said they expect to grill or barbecue, Numerator reported. Planned purchases include meat or seafood (cited by 59%), alcoholic beverages (49%), snacks (60%), side dishes (46%), fruit and/or vegetables (44%), non-alcoholic beverages (31%), desserts (42%) and grilling materials (31%).

Sixty-eight percent aim to buy their Independence Day items at the grocery store, compared with 53% at mass merchants, 36% at warehouse clubs, 19% from online delivery/pickup services and 4% at convenience stores. Also, 48% expect to spend $25 to $75 versus 19% spending $75 to $100 and 22% over $100, Numerator said.

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