4th Of July Cookout Costs Continue To Rise In 2023, Report Finds

Foodies want to celebrate the Fourth of July in classic holiday fashion: with good food. On Independence Day, that means a cookout under the summer sun with friends and family. But, as U.S. consumers start getting their grocery lists together for the party this year, they might find themselves asking, "How many friends and family are we talking about here?" Hot dogs plus buns plus baked potatoes and baked beans and drinks multiplied by ... how many guests, exactly?

Planning a food-centered party as grocery inflation refuses to cool might put a damper on Americans' celebratory mood. Last summer, inflation hit a record-high 9.1% in June 2022, which remained at 8.5% by the Independence Day season in July. Now, as of May 2023, U.S. inflation remains at 4% — which might seem like good news, but these figures don't mean prices have gone down. They simply mean that prices have stopped steadily increasing. Actual grocery prices are, in fact, substantially higher now than on the Fourth of July 2022, especially for staple cookout foods.

According to a new report by Wells Fargo's Agri-Food Institute (via Food Dive), sirloin steak is 2.9% more expensive than this time last year. The prices of other holiday weekend cookout staples are much higher, like ice cream (9%), processed cheese (10%), and bread (22%). Potato chip costs are up 15% from last year and dips are up 9%. Even the price of fireworks was up 35% from 2021 to 2022.

Getting thrifty as grocery bills skyrocket

What are foodies on a dime to do? Can the show still go on? According to Wells Fargo's Chief Agricultural Economist Michael Swanson, via Food Dive, the move is to opt for ground beef and chicken, which are reportedly the least-expensive meats on the market at the moment. You could also opt for a thriftier cut, like pork butt, which will require a longer cooking time but produce enough meat to feed a crowd.

Swanson says to swap beer for wine and to buy 2-liter bottles of soda instead of individual cans. (A 12-pack of soda costs 14% more than it did last summer.) And, of course, the ultimate fun money-saving move is to host a potluck and invite a ton of friends, so each person only has to be responsible for one dish and there'll still be a massive spread.

An estimated 60% of Americans celebrate Independence Day by grilling out, and according to a survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the same Fourth of July cookout cost foodies an average of 17% more in 2022 than in 2021. Earlier this month, the White House released an update on the future of U.S. food inflation, and it wasn't especially encouraging Consumers can expect prices to remain exhaustingly high for at least a while longer (an extra-compelling reason to enjoy yourself this holiday in the meantime).