Independence Day cookout still a bargain for consumers
Submitted to the Herald Review
A cookout of Americans’ favorite foods for the Fourth of July, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, pork spare ribs, potato salad, baked beans, lemonade and chocolate milk, will cost slightly less this year, coming in at less than $6 per person, said the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
Michigan Farm Bureau Livestock Specialist Ernie Birchmeier said the informal survey, conducted quarterly, reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people is $55.07, or $5.51 per person.
“The cost for the cookout is down slightly (less than 1 percent) from last year,” Birchmeier said. “The year-to-year direction of the Farm Bureau market-basket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home as both the index and the market-basket remained relatively flat compared to year-ago levels.”
According to Birchmeier, the survey’s summer cookout menu for 10 people consists of hot dogs and buns, cheeseburgers and buns, pork spare ribs, deli potato salad, baked beans, corn chips, lemonade, chocolate milk, ketchup, mustard and watermelon for dessert.
Competition in the meat case continues to benefit consumers through lower retail prices, making grilling for July 4 even more affordable for consumers this year. A total of 96 Farm Bureau members in 28 states served as “volunteer shoppers,” checking retail prices for summer cookout foods at their local grocery stores for this informal survey.
According to AFBF Director of Market Intelligence Dr. John Newton, record meat and dairy production thus far in 2018 is primarily responsible for lower consumer retail prices leading up to this year’s Independence Day cookout.
“This is a very tough time for farmers due to low prices across the board,” Newton said. "It is appropriate that this very painful situation hitting farmers be reflected at the retail level as well.”
Milk production in 2018 is projected at a record 218 billion pounds, contributing to lower retail milk prices. Newton said while fluid milk prices have declined, tighter stocks of American cheese contributed to slightly higher cheese prices.
As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar America’s farm families receive has dropped consistently from the 1970s, when farmers received about one-third of consumer food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home.
“Today, farmers receive approximately 14.8 cents of every food marketing dollar, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said. “However, after accounting for the costs of production, U.S. farmers net 7.8 cents per food dollar.”
Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $55.07 market-basket would be $8.15.