According to the latest informal Wisconsin Farm Bureau Marketbasket survey, the total cost of 12 food items used to host a summer cookout for 10 totaled $69.74. The same survey conducted on the national level by American Farm Bureau totaled $69.68.
“While we are seeing the price of food increase both nationally and here at home, at just under $7 per person, this year’s summer cookout is cheaper than the average fast-food meal,” says WFBF’s Director of Media Relations and Outreach Cassie Sonnentag.
Wisconsin’s $69.74 survey price is just 6 cents higher than AFBF’s survey of similar food items. The total cost of the cookout is up 17% nationally or about $10 from last year as a result of ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation and the ongoing war in Ukraine.
INFLATION IS IMPACTING AGRICULTURE
Increased prices in the grocery store are not a windfall for farmers. Just like those they are growing food for, farmers are feeling price-point pain, as well.
“Farmers are price takers, not price makers,” Sonnentag says. “With the cost of fuel on the rise and fertilizer prices tripled in the past year, the higher prices farmers are being paid do not even begin to cover their increase in farm expenses.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s revised Food Dollar Series, farmers currently receive 8% of every food marketing dollar. The farmer’s share of the retail food dollar is as low as 2% to 4% in highlight processed foods such as bread and cereal and can be 35% or higher for some fresh products.
USDA is also forecasting a sharp increase in food price inflation for the year. The Economic Research Service now believes supermarket prices will be up 8.5% to 9.5% this year. Most notably, USDA expects double-digit increases this year in poultry, eggs, dairy, fats and oils and bakery items.
The war in Ukraine also poses a strain for farmers and consumers alike. The country’s contributions to the global food supply have been cut off, fertilizer exports from Russia and Belarus are constrained, and other countries have pulled back exports to protect domestic supplies.
“For nearly forty years, we have seen steady growth for our global food security,” Sonnentag says. “The combined disruptions we are seeing within the supply chain, inflation and the war in Ukraine have a cascading effect when it comes to the price of food.”
The year-to-year direction of the Marketbasket survey tracks with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home and general inflation across the economy. Both the index and the Marketbasket show increases of more than 10% compared to year-ago levels.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF COOKOUT ITEMS
While the price of a summer cookout has increased in the past year, shoppers can take steps to ensure they are getting the most out of the food items they are purchasing. Approximately one-third of human food produced in the word is lost or wasted, so using items effectively and creatively is one way to stretch your food dollar.
“You can reduce food waste at home by sticking to your grocery list, correctly storing and creatively repurposing leftovers,” Sonnentag says. “Farmers and consumers alike can utilize every resource to maintain their bottom line and help the environment.”
Understanding food expiration dates is one way to get the most out of cookout items. Best-by and sell-by dates are provided by the processor for best quality and are often still safe to eat past the printed date.
Additionally, consider composting food waste items such as fruit and vegetable scraps with yard waste. According to a recent report from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, using or composting the amount of food sent to landfills in 2020 would reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the amount of taking 600,000 cars off the road for a year.
“By proactively thinking about our food waste at home, we can all get the most out of our food while minimizing our environmental impact,” Sonnentag says.
The July Cookout Survey is part of Farm Bureau’s Marketbasket series, which also includes an annual Thanksgiving dinner cost survey.
Members of Wisconsin Farm Bureau collected price samples of 12 food items in 27 communities across Wisconsin in June.