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Sizzling Prices Impact Purchasing Patterns For July 4 Cookouts

Despite spike in BBQ Index, consumers expected to emphasize quality menu items.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: AVNphotolab/iStock.com PHOTOGRAPHY: AVNphotolab/iStock.com

The 2023 Rabobank BBQ Index reveals that a 10-person barbecue will cost nearly $100 this year, as inflation has run hot — up 31% since 2018. Nonetheless, America’s grillers are poised to splurge on quality meats and drinks this Fourth of July as they prioritize paying for experiences over durable goods.

A variety of macro forces — the Russia-Ukraine war, severe drought, higher wages and rising costs of farm inputs, transportation and energy — have combined to fuel broad-based inflation throughout the supply chain. Against this challenging backdrop, the consumer remains remarkably resilient, the index notes.

The 2023 index, which measures the cost of staple ingredients for a 10-person barbecue, shows that it will cost $97 to host a cookout on Independence Day this year, up from $73 in 2018. Indeed, inflation has been running hot, particularly food prices, which have risen 31 percent in the past four years, marking the largest four-year spike since the late-1970s oil crisis.

Despite the sticker shock at the grocery store, cost isn’t the primary concern when looking to bring people together or celebrate a milestone, the index authors say.

“Consumers have taken some heavy punches but they’re still standing,” said Tom Bailey, Senior Consumer Foods Analyst at Rabobank. “They’re being shrewd in areas that don’t enrich experiences, while giving in to the urge to splurge where it matters most. With that mindset, look for spending to heat up this summer on quality meats and drinks—the recipe for a memorable barbecue.”

The Rabobank Barbecue Index assumes an average American BBQ situation—a mix of family and friends—on Fourth of July weekend. That includes 10 adults with each consuming the same amount of food and beverages. We assume each person will consume one cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato, one chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato and a slice of cheese, two handfuls of chips, two beers, a soda and a few scoops of ice cream. As a means of comparison, the BBQ Index parallels the Bureau of Labor Statistics as a data source.

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