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Grilling out this Fourth of July will still cost less than $6 per person

WASHINGTON – A new survey from American Farm Bureau shows the average July 4th cookout this year still costs less than six dollars per person.

What’s in a typical Fourth of July cookout? There’s burgers, hot dogs, watermelon and lemonade to wash it down.

An annual survey out from American Farm Bureau tracks the prices of 14 summer cookout menu items for ten people. This year, the total price of $55.84 was $1.73 below last year’s price, according to Farm Bureau Economist John Anderson.

“Three years ago we started doing a special survey just of a summer cookout, to coincide with the Fourth of July,” says Anderson. “And in this third year of the survey, what our numbers show is that the cost of our ten-person Fourth of July cookout is down about three percent from a year ago.”

Anderson says a major driver behind the numbers in the summer survey is the price of meat.

“This is a cookout survey, right?” Anderson says, “and a cookout is not a cookout without meat, so we have quite a bit of meat in this survey basket. Essentially we’ve got ground round for hamburgers, pork spare ribs and hot dogs in the basket. The ground round price in this year’s survey is up about two percent from a year ago. If you look at pork, on the other hand, pork prices have been going down, really all year, and hot dogs are down almost two percent from a year ago, and that’s going to track pretty closely with pork.”

Heading through the second half of the year, Anderson expects meat prices to maintain their current level. But he says processed food prices may decline further.

“Those costs tend to be really closely related to energy,” he explains, “and so we’ve had, this year, lower energy prices than a year ago, and I think that decline in energy is at least partly responsible for that kind of broad-based decline in those further processed items we see in the basket.”

The informal survey was conducted with the help of 88 Farm Bureau members in 30 states.

Ketchup prices saw the highest price increase year-over-year in the survey, up 7.5 percent at $1.46 per 20 ounces. Hamburger buns saw the largest price decline, down 10.7 percent from last year, now at $1.50 for a package of eight.

To hear more about the cost of an average Independe Day grillout, click the audio player above this story.