By Kevin Bessler | The Center Square
If you plan on holding a July 4 cookout this weekend, expect to pay a lot more than what you paid for last year’s meal.
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation marketbasket survey, the overall cost for the Independence Day cookout is up 17%, or about $10 from last year. Ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation tied in part to increased government spending, and the war in Ukraine are being blamed for the price hikes.
Farm Bureau economist Mike Doherty said every ag economist in the country is startled at the skyrocketing prices of food.
“Because throughout our careers, food prices hardly went up at all year-to-year, three to four percent, then suddenly they are going to 10 and 17 percent for beef prices, so yes, it’s been a shock,” Doherty said.
Ground beef, a grilling staple, has experienced the largest jump in price at 36%. Doherty believes beef exports are one of the factors.
“U.S. consumers, to some extent, are competing against Japanese and Chinese consumers who have been increasing their beef consumption for quite a while,” Doherty said.
The Agriculture Department’s Producer Price Index indicates that compared to a year ago, farm-level cattle prices are up 17.5 %, while wholesale beef prices are down 14%. The report notes the discrepancy highlights the differences between farm-level, wholesale and retail beef prices and how the events of the last few years have had significant impacts on beef production.
If the price of beef steers people to other options, there isn’t much relief. The price of chicken breasts and pork chops are both up over 30% from last year. Even the price of sides are more expensive, with pork and beans up 33%, and potato salad up 19%.
Tammy Batson from the Northern Illinois University Department of Economics is not too optimistic food prices will return to normal.
“Do I think a lot of the new prices are here to stay? I do think so,” Batson said. “I don’t see a lot of drop in prices coming ahead.”
The AFBF survey did note some prices on picnic items are lower than last year. Those include strawberries, sliced cheese and potato chips.