Fourth of July cookout prices dip after years of inflation (2024)

Joseph S. Pete

You can already smell the charcoal smoke wafting from Webers loaded with hotdogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob and other summery favorites.

People across the Region are going to fire up the grill and cook out this Fourth of July holiday.

After years of inflation driving up grocery bills, the cost of Independence Day cookouts finally dipped a little this year, according to the Indiana Farm Bureau.

The Indiana Farm Bureau estimates Hoosiers will pay an average of $68.33 for a cookout feeding 10 people this summer or $6.83 per person. That's a 2% decline as compared to last year.

Hoosiers are paying about 4% less, or about 29 cents less, to grill out than people are nationwide. The average cookout nationally will cost $7.12 per person this four-day Independence Day weekend.

“Inflation is slowing slightly and supply chain issues that have been prevalent for the last few years are slowly getting worked out, so we are seeing a slight decrease in prices compared to last year here in Indiana,” Indiana Farm Bureau Chief Economist Dr. Todd Davis said. “Our location in the central part of the country — closer to where most food is produced — also plays a role in Indiana and other Midwest states coming in lower than the national average.”

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The Indiana Farm Bureau released its annual summer cookout market basket that aggregates the average supermarket costs across the state of cookout staples like ground beef, cheese, hamburger buns, pork chops, chicken breasts, pork and beans, potato salad, strawberries, chips, ice cream, cookies and lemonade.

Ground beef shot up 14% year-over-year in Indiana, where it now costs $13.88 for two pounds. It's 9% more expensive in Indiana than it is nationally. Ground beef costs an average of $12.77 for 2 pounds nationally.

Beef prices have spiked nationally because of a prolonged drought in the southern plains, which have driven up cattle farmers' feeding costs. Cattle herds have fallen to the lowest levels since 1961.

“Fewer animals mean fewer head going to market, causing a tighter supply at the grocery store,” Davis said.

The price of hamburger buns, pork chops, lemonade, potato salad and strawberries also rose slightly in Indiana year-over-year. Potato salad and lemonade are up 2% year-over-year while hamburger buns cost 5% more than last year. Strawberries cost 2% more than last year in the Hoosier State but 16% less in Indiana than they do nationwide.

“We’ve heard from specialty growers in central Indiana who had a large early crop this year around the end of May and beginning of June when this survey was conducted, which may have resulted in more affordable strawberries in the state compared to other regions,” Davis said.

The cost of cookies, chicken breasts, cheese, ice cream and chips got more affordable in Indiana this year, as compared to last year. Cheese prices are down 6% year-over-year, ice cream by 8%, chips by 9% and cookies by 24% in Indiana. Chicken breast prices have fallen by 18% to $7.64 for two pounds.

Food costs however remain high compared to two or three years ago because of inflation, which has risen more than 20% since the coronavirus pandemic.

Part of that is the cost of transportation and processing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates only 15 cents of every dollar spent on food goes to farm production. Farmers only make $10 out of the $68.33 market basket with the rest going to food processing, packaging, transportation, wholesaling, retail distribution and food service preparation.

“Farmers are price takers, not price makers — just like consumers,” said Janis Highley, Indiana Farm Bureau second vice president. “It is encouraging to see that food prices in Indiana are decreasing slightly from last year, but margins are still tight for farmers due to high supply costs because the amount farmers are being paid isn’t covering that increase in expenses. But Indiana farmers are committed to streamlining their operations to decrease costs of production as best they can, all while providing safe, affordable food not just for Hoosiers, but for families all over the world.”

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Fourth of July cookout prices dip after years of inflation (2024)

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