Last year, the White House tweeted out that “the cost of a 4th of July BBQ is down from last year.” That represented a less than 1% decrease, or a $0.16 difference, from 2020. The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released Consumer Price Index data for May 2022 that stated that over the last 12 months, the all items index increased by 8.6 percent before seasonal adjustment.” That along with inflation now at a 40-year high, what does that mean for our 4th of July BBQ this year?
The average cost of a 4th of July cookout in 2022 rose by nearly 12%, or just over $7, according to CPI data. The biggest percentage increases were chicken at 27.89%, ground beef at 16.93%, beans at 15.49%, and potatoes and potato chips at 14.53% and 14% respectively. The average cost of a summer cookout in 2021 was $59.50 compared to $66.58 in 2022.
What Items Are Considered Part of the Summer Cookout Menu
The American Farm Bureau Federation releases their annual “AFBF Summer Cookout” which reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people. Here are the items that the American Farm Bureau lists on their menu:
- 2 pints of strawberries
- 13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies
- 8 hamburger buns
- 2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad
- 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 32 ounces of pork & beans
- 2 pounds of ground beef
- Half-gallon of vanilla ice cream
- 3 pounds of center cut pork chops
- 2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade
- 1 pound of sliced cheese
- 13-ounce bag of potato chips
How We Calculated the Cost of a 4th of July Cookout in 2022
Unfortunately, we don’t have the data in yet from the American Farm Bureau for 2022. The 2021 data was released on June 29th, 2021 which was the Tuesday before July 4th. It is currently June 15th, 2022. With that in mind, their 2022 data should be released on or around June 28th, 2022.
We were able to, however, make a pretty informed predication based on a few factors.
First, it’s important to understand how The American Farm Bureau Federation comes up with their numbers so you can compare to how we formulated our numbers.
The American Farm Bureau uses a combination of Consumer Price Index (CPI) information publicly available via the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as, at least in 2021, 160 volunteer rural shoppers across the country and Puerto Rico. These 160 volunteers include, but are not exclusively, members of the Farm Bureau.
We will dive into our numbers here in a bit but we exclusively used CPI data to come up with or calculations. Some of the CPI data did not 100% correlate with the verbiage used in the menu items that The American Farm Bureau put out. We did our best to compare items that were very similar or in the same category to ensure as much accuracy as possible. The other caveat to the numbers we came up with are that the information is based on May 2022 and not June 2022. This means that there will inevitably be some differences when the final numbers comes out, but we don’t see that being more than a percentage or two.
Breakdown of Pricing by AFBF Summer Cookout Menu Item
We used the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Mid-Atlantic Information Office to do our calculations. Again not everything was 100% apples to apples comparison (no pun intended). But we breakdown our methodology below.
In the below subheadings, we’ll be referencing three main resources:
The first is the aforementioned article published by The American Farm Bureau Federation which speaks about the 2021 July 4th cookout being stable. I will reference this article as the “fb.org” article”
The second resource is also from the same fb.org article but is also listed above. It is the “AFBF Summer Cookout” menu and we’ll be going through each of the items on that list.
The other is the aforementioned US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Mid-Atlantic Information Office which breaks down the average retail food and energy prices in the US. I will reference the table as the “CPI table”
It’s helpful to have these resources open so you can follow along.
2 pints of strawberries
The fb.org article cites that in 2021, the cost of two pints of strawberries rose by 22% to $5.30. This puts the 2020 price at roughly $4.34 ($5.30/(22%+1)). The article cites the increase was “due to strong demand and the effects of several weather events including sever rain, hail and high winds that caused significant setbacks in the harvest early in 2021.”
Looking at the CPI Table, the price of a pint of strawberries (labeled as “Strawberries, dry pint, per 12 oz. (340.2 gm)) it shows a price for May 2021 as $2.648 and a price for May 2022 as $2.438. Since our menu calls for two pints, we need to double those numbers. That gives us a price in May 2021 of $5.296 ($2.648 x 2) and May 2022 of $4.876. This a DECREASE of $0.42, or roughly 8% for two pints of strawberries.
Unfortunately, it’s the only item on the list that decreased year-over-year.
13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies
Looking at the fb.org article, it states that a 13-ounce bag of chocolate chip cookies was $4.02 in 2021. This was an increase of 11% which would make the price in 2020 $3.62 (4.02/(11%+1)). The CPI table shows a slightly different verbiage for this item. Instead of a “13-ounce bag” it shows a per lb. (or per pound) measurement.
In 2021 it does reflect the same number mentioned above. Labeled as “Cookies, chocolate chip, per lb. (453.6 gm)” was $4.019 (or $4.02 rounded to the nearest penny).
NOTE: The “(453.6 gm)” at the end of many of the items is simply stating that there are 453.6 grams in a pound. You will see this throughout the article so we wanted you to be aware.
This is the same price quoted in the fb.org article. The difference here is 3 grams. Since the dollar amount was the same as the CPI table, we used changed our information to a “per pound” comparison.
The CPI table states that one pound of chocolate chip cookies was $4.019 in May of 2021 and is $4.505 in May of 2022. That represents an increase of $0.48 per pound or roughly 12% (11.94%).
8 hamburger buns
This is where the information starts to deviate a little between the fb.org article and the CPI table. The exact item of “hamburger buns” does not occur anywhere in the CPI table. However, we did fine something similar that we felt was an adequate replacement.
The fb.org article states that the cost of 8 hamburger buns in 2021 was $1.66 which was a 6% increase over 2020. That would make the 2020 price $1.57 (1.66/(6%+1)).
Since there was no direct item for hamburger buns in the CPI table, we decided to use “Bread, white, pan, per lb. (453.6 gm)” as the substitute. The 2021 price on the CPI table for the white bread was $1.511 per lb. We will assume that an eight count of hamburger buns weighs a pound.
Since now we are exclusively looking at CPI table pricing for this item, we can compare May 2021 and May 2022. In May 2021, as previously stated, white bread on the CPI table cost $1.511 and in May of 2022 it was $1.606. This represents an increase of roughly $0.10, or approximately 6.29%.
2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad
There was no direct item for “homemade potato salad” on the CPI table. The closest item we found was “Potatoes, white, per lb. (453.6 gm)” which we decide to go with as they are a core ingredient in the aptly named, “potato salad”.
The fb.org article states that 2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad cost $2.75 in 2021 and was up 3% from 2020. That would put the cost of homemade potato salad at $2.67 ($2.75/(3%+1).
Looking at the CPI table, and using “Potato, white, per lb. (453.6 gm)”, we see the price per pound in May of 2021 was $0.764. But we need to multiply that number by 2.5 so that we can associate that number with the “2.5 pounds of homemade potato salad”. That would put the price of a potatoes in May 2021 at $1.91 ($0.764 x 2.5).
The May 2022 data on the CPI table shows a number of $0.875. Again, we need to multiply that by 2.5 pounds which correlates it with the AFBF menu. That brings us to $2.1875 in May 2022. This is an increase of $0.2775, or 14.53%.
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
This version of chicken was on the CPI table and the item matched up with the information provided by the fb.org article.
In 2021, the fb.org article stated that 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts were $6.74 which was only up 1% from 2020. That would put the price at $6.65 in the previous year ($6.74/(1%+1)).
The item in the CPI table is called “Chicken breast, boneless, per lb. (453.6 gm)” and shows a price of $3.371 in May of 2021. Again, we need to multiply by two so we can accommodate the 2 pound requirement in the AFBF menu. This brings the May 2021 price to $6.742 which aligns with the data in the fb.org article.
In May of 2022, that same chicken is $4.310 per pound bring the total price for 2022 to $8.62 for 2 pounds of chicken breasts. That is an increase of $1.88 or 27.89%. This is the largest year-over-year price increase of the items in the AFBF menu.
32 ounce of pork & beans
This is another item we could not directly correlate between the two resources.
The fb.org article states that in 2021, 32 ounces of pork & beans was $1.90. This was down 13% from 2020 which would make the previous year cost $2.18 ($1.90/(-13%+1)).
In the CPI table there wasn’t an item called “pork and beans”, “baked beans”, “haricot” or “navy” so we used the “Beans, dried, any type, all sizes, per lb. (453.6 gm)” item to compare the two year data.
In May 2021, the CPI table shows that beans cost $1.42 per pound. Since our menu requires two pounds (16 ounces in a pound), that puts the May 2021 cost for beans at $2.84. This is $0.94 higher than the pork & beans quoted in the fb.org article for 2021. Since we are comparing CPI table data year over year, we feel this is still ok.
The May 2022 CPI table data shows that the “Beans, dried, any type, all sizes, per lb. (453.6 gm) was $1.640 per pound. Again, we need to double that number so we come up with $3.28 for beans in 2022 or an increase of 15.49%.
If we use the 15.49% increase for overall beans from 2021 to 2022, we can make the assumption that the $1.90 2021 price of pork & beans (from fb.org article) would also increase by the same or similar amount. That would bring the 2022 price of pork & beans to $2.19 but we went with the year-over-year data cited in the CPI table.
2 pounds of ground beef
Ground beef was included in the CPI table, however the CPI table varied a bit in naming.
The fb.org article states that 2 pounds of ground beef was $8.20 in 2021 which represented a 8% decrease from 2020. That would make the price of 2 pounds of ground beef $8.91 in 2020 ($8.20/(-8%+1)).
The CPI table has a few ground beef items. Those include “Ground chuck, 100% beef, per lb. (453.6 gm)”, “Ground beef, 100% beef, per lb. (453.6 gm)”, “Ground beef, lean and extra lean, per lb. (453.6 gm)”, and “All uncooked ground beef, per lb. (453.6 gm)”. We used the “Ground beef, 100% beef, per lb. (453.6 gm) because the CPI table shows a May 2021 price of $4.101 per pound and that is identical to the information in the fb.org on a per pound basis.
In May 2022, the CPI table shows that a pound of ground beef costs $4.794 which brings the two pound total to $9.588 ($4.794 x 2 pounds). That represents an increase of $1.39 or $16.93% year-over-year.
Half-gallon of vanilla ice cream
The exact verbiage doesn’t exist between the two resources however we feel confident that “Ice cream, prepackaged, bulk, regular, per 1/2 gal. (1.9 lit)” is the same as “half-gallon of vanilla ice cream”.
The data in the fb.org article states that the vanilla ice cream was $4.69 in 2021. This was down 5% from the previous year making the price $4.93 in 2020 ($4.69/(-5%+1)).
The CPI table also shows the same price of $4.69 for its ice cream item in 2021. The 2022 number on the CPI table is $5.35 which is an increase of $0.67 or $14.24%.
3 pounds of center cut pork chops
This is similar to the ground beef item in that the CPI table has a few different items for “chops”. There is “Chops, center cut, bone-in, per lb. (453.6 gm)”, “Chops, boneless, per lb. (453.6 gm)”, and “All Pork Chops, per lb. (453.6 gm)”.
We went with the “All Pork Chops, per lb. (453.6 gm)” as the price on the CPI table matched closely with that of the fb.org article.
In 2021, the Farm Bureau (fb.org article) states that 3 pounds of center cut pork chops was $11.63. This was down 2% from 2020 making the 2020 price for pork chops $11.87 ($11.63/(-2%+1)).
The CPI table shows pork chops at $3.875 per pound or $11.625 ($3.875 x 3 pounds). The 2022 price, according to the CPI table, is $4.13 per pound or $12.39 ($4.13 x 3 pounds). This is an increase of $0.76 or 6.58%.
The fb.org article shows a price for pork chops of $11.63 and the CPI tables shows a per pound figure of $3.875. Since we need 3 pounds for the AFBF menu, that comes to $11.625 which matches the numbers in the fb.org article.
2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade
This was a tricky one as there isn’t “lemonade” on the CPI table. There are, however, “Lemons, per lb. (453.6)” and “Sugar, white, all sizes per lb. (453.6 gm). We originally wanted to add both the lemons and sugar to our numbers as that’s how lemonade is made.
However, we just went with lemons as there were no other condiments listed on the menu and the assumption is that a person would have sugar already in the home Much like they would have ketchup and mustard for their hamburger.
The fb.org article stated that, in 2021, 2.5 quarts of fresh-squeezed lemonade cost $3.65. This was down 2% from previous year making 2020’s price $3.72 ($3.65/(-2%+1)).
Looking at the CPI table, a single pound of lemons cost $1.981 in 2021. I’m going to assume that we need 2 lbs. of lemons to make lemonade. You need four medium lemons or three large lemons to get a half cup of juice. Most lemonade recipes call for one and a half cup of juice plus two additional lemons for garnish. That puts us somewhere between 9 and 14 lemons. If an average lemon weights 4.2 oz, that means that 9 lemons weighs 2.36 lbs. and 14 lemons weighs around 3.68 lbs. But let’s assume we only need 2 lbs. so we can keep the math easy and align the two resources.
NOTE: Yes, we like to overexplain everything.
The CPI table shows that in May of 2021 the price per pound for lemons was $1.981 and in May of 2022 it was $2.261. Doubling those numbers, because we need two pounds, that brings the numbers to $3.962 and $4.522 respectively. That represents an increase of $0.56 or 14.13%.
1 pound of sliced cheese
We used the “American processed cheese, per lb. (453.6 gm)” item from the CPI index as there wasn’t an exact match and both the fb.org and CPI table were close as far as pricing.
The fb.org article says that 1 pound of sliced cheese was $4.05 in 2021. This was down 1% from the previous year making the 2020 cost $4.09 ($4.05/(-1%+1)).
The CPI table shows a number for “American processed cheese, per lb. (453.6)” at $4.048 which is inline with the fb.org article. The 2022 price for the same item was $4.34. An increase of $0.29 or 7.21%.
13-ounce bag of potato chips
The fb.org article cites a 13-ounce bag however the 16-ounce bag. For our purposes we defaulted to the 16-ounce bag as dollar amount of the two items in 2021 were the same.
In 2021, the fb.org article cites that the cost of a bag of potato chips was $4.93, a decrease of 1% for the previous year. That makes a bag of potato chips in 2020 $4.98 ($4.93/(-1%+1))
The CPI table shows the same number as the fb.org article at $4.929 in May of 2021. For May of 2022, the CPI table shows a value of $5.619. This is an increase of $0.69 (nice) or 14%.
Before we get into putting all these numbers together, we found it interesting that the Farm Bureau used two “potato” based items in their menu; potato salad and potato chips. We were glad, however, to find that potatoes and potato chips were equally up at around 14%. Not happy that they were up but more happy that the data was similar. We love ourselves some potato chips though.
Let’s compile some of the data for ease of use (best viewed on desktop or tablet):
|ITEM||~ ’20 “fb.org” Price||’21 “fb.org” Price||’21 “CPI” Price||’22 “CPI” Price||$Change||%Change|
|Chocolate Chip Cookies||$3.62||$4.02||$4.02||$4.50||$0.48||11.94%|
“$Change” column is ONLY comparing dollar amount change from ’21 “CPI” Price to ’22 “CPI” Price
“%Change” column is ONLY comparing percentage change from ’21 “CPI” Price to ’22 “CPI” Price
You might notice that we did not come to the $0.16 savings from 2020 to 2021. We are attributing that to rounding done by The Farm Bureau. They stated a “22% increase”, as an example, but that is more than likely not an exact number.
We found that the average cost of each item on the “menu” increased by 11.90% in 2022. Only one item, strawberries, was cheaper this year. The other eleven items were all up over a minimum of 6%. We used the Farm Bureaus number of $59.50 for the cookout cost last year and multiplied 11.90% and came up with a $7.08 increase in year-or-year cost. That’s our prediction: A summer cookout will cost you over $7 more than a year ago. $7.08 to be exact. However, our numbers, based on The Bureau of Statistics’ Consumer Price Index data came to an $7.11 increase. But again, we are going with the $7.08 as our guess.
Please note that the 2022 data provided by The American Farm Bureau Federation has not yet been released at the time of this writing (June 15, 2022). The report is expected later this month. This article is simply a data dive into the Consumer Price Index and we wanted to take a stab at seeing if we could “predict” what the cost of a summer cook out would be based on publicly available data. The information in this article is merely for entertainment purposes and should not be considered advice of any kind.