Cookout costs increasing over last year as heart of summer approaches

As Americans continue to enjoy their summer, many shoppers are seeing an increase on prices of cookout items compared to previous years.

Meats — specifically, ground beef, pork chops, and chicken breast — account for half of cookout costs, according to the American Farm Bureau. Ground beef is up 11% compared to 2023, largely due to the cattle industry becoming much smaller than in previous years.

Though it’s not just ground beef on the rise. The USDA reported that the average price of pork chops was at $4.189 per pound in May 2023 and rose to $4.391 per pound in May 2024.

Chicken breast has declined in the past year, down from an average of $4.236 in May 2023 to $4.118 in May 2024, but prices went up close to 10 cents in May 2024 compared to the multi-year low of $4.060 in November 2023.

Dushar Patel, the owner of Grocerylan in Xenia, said that cookout items are his top sellers this time of year. He said that shipping costs have gone up in the past years, as well.

Patel said that he has seen less people shopping than in past years, largely attributing that to inflation.

“People are looking for cheap stuff instead of quality stuff,” Patel said.

The issue of prices came to the forefront for many last week for the Fourth of July holiday. The National Retail Federation estimated that two-thirds of U.S. residents were planning to have a cookout or picnic for the holiday, which made it a time of focus for businesses like Groceryland.

“People tend to buy what they need only,” Patel said, adding that all holiday business, not just business for July 4th, has gone down in the last two years, even though he tries to keep prices low on goods such as meat and bread.

John Jervis, a Grocerylan customer, said the spent more planning for Fourth of July food and cookout than in previous years.

“I gotta go (to) three or four different places to get what I want because I have to go to wherever the cheapest is,” Jervis said.

The American Farm Bureau estimates that the nationwide average cost for a 10-person cookout this July is $71.22, up from $69.68 in 2022 and $67.73 in 2023. That cost includes varying amounts of ground beef, cheese, buns, chicken breasts, pork chops, potato chips, pork and beans, strawberries, potato salad, lemonade, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream.

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

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