It's the time of year for picnics and cookouts. While good weather can make celebrating the holiday enjoyable, low prices for food can make it even better. The American Farm Bureau Federation reported this week the cost of a traditional Fourth of July picnic will cost slightly more this year but still is less than $6 per person. That's a decent price considering what many restaurants charge for meals.
The Farm Bureau menu includes hot dogs and buns, cheeseburgers and buns, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, corn chips, watermelon, ketchup, mustard, lemonade and chocolate milk. The average cost of a summer picnic for 10 is $58.72, or $5.87 per person, which the Farm Bureau said is about a 5 percent increase compared to a year ago.
“Despite some modest price increases over the past year or so — meats, especially — most Americans should be able to find summer picnic foods at prices close to the averages found by our volunteer shoppers,” said John Anderson, deputy chief economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Retail meat prices are higher compared to a year ago because the nation's cattle herd is now at a historically small level. The total number of hogs farmers across the nation are raising is also down, which has contributed to higher retail prices for pork products.”
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A seperate report from Rabobank shows Americans paying more for their backyard barbecues than ever before. The Rabobank BBQ Index included an overall price increase from $51.90 in 2004 to $55.62 in 2007 to $66.82 in 2014. Due to higher beef prices, the company suggested chicken might be a popular alternative to burgers.
“While commodity price fluctuations are not always passed on to retail prices, American consumers will feel some significant market changes this Fourth of July,” said Bill Cordingley, Head of Food and Agribusiness Research at Rabobank. “The beef market has exploded this year and retail ground beef prices, the heart and soul of the American barbecue, are up an astonishing 71 percent over the last 5 years.”
The Rabobank Index menu included two burgers (one chicken, one beef) with a slice of cheese, chips, beer, soda, a pickle and ice cream.