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Fourth of July food prices are up this year, but there are tricks to save money

Here’s What’s In And Out For 4th Of July Spreads This Year
Posted at 3:15 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-04 19:34:11-04

DENVER — The average cost for a cookout this Fourth of July is up 17% according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. It estimates that consumers will pay roughly $69.68 for their favorite barbeque meals, which is up about $10 from last year.

For a group of 10, that’s about $7 per person. The marketbasket survey shows for grocery products this year in comparison to 2021:

  • Ground beef is up 36%
  • Chicken is up 33%
  • Pork chops are up 31%
  • Lemonade is up 22%
  • Potato salad is up 19%
  • Hamburger buns are up 16%
  • Vanilla ice cream is up 10%
  • Chocolate chip cookies are up 7%

“Just like everything else, shoppers are going see their grocery bills go significantly higher,” said Shawn Martini, the vice president of advocacy for the Colorado Farm Bureau.

There are a lot of factors playing into the price increases like the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, COVID-19, drought, and the cost of grass, feed, fertilizer, plastic and gas going up.

“The big thing is fuel prices; diesel prices for farms and ranches, diesel to get food from the farm to the processing plant then to the manufacturer and finally to the grocery store is significantly higher,” Martini said.

Martini says just like everyone else, farmers and ranchers are feeling the impacts of inflation and that it’s affecting their mental health and bottom line.

There are a few bright spots, however, like the price of strawberries dropping 16% this year thanks to a good harvest. The price of dairy products is also generally down, like the price of cheese dropping 13%. Potato chips are also slightly cheaper at 4% lower per bag.

Martini says the closer you can get your products to the producer or the source, the lower the prices will likely be since there is less transport involved.

Laura Daily from Mile High on the Cheap, meanwhile, says there are ways to shop smart and save a little money this summer.

“You have to be a smart shopper,” Daily said.

She has noticed that even household products like toiletries and cleaning supplies have gone up between 10 and 20%.

One tip: Be sure to join your grocery store’s loyalty program because you will see discounts just for walking in the door.

She says there may also be store or manufacturer coupons but those are becoming more difficult to come by. There is, though, more of a shift toward digital coupons.

“Look at those inserts. If you don't get the flyers in your newspaper, when you go to the grocery store, the first thing you should do is see what's in that sales insert,” Daily said.

Also, pay attention to store sales and check the clearance racks, even in grocery stores. The items might be on clearing because their sell by date is coming up or because the company decided to rebrand the product.

She’s also been known to try to negotiate with store managers on clearance items that have not been selling for a while.

“Maybe you're going to have to go to multiple stores. I know that's really hard because gas is so expensive. We try to consolidate our shopping trips, but most stores are within a mile or two of each other. So, you can hit three or four stores and find the place that maybe has the lowest price,” she said.

Another tip: Brand loyalty might be a thing of the past. Generic or store brand items are often the same product made by the same manufacturers but are cheaper.

Conversely, if there is one brand you absolutely love, look for other ways to save costs like switching your paper towel or toilet paper brand. Daily says compromise is key. Buying in bulk also might not result in a ton of savings.

She also is warning customers to watch out for so-called shrinkflation. This is where companies might keep the look and price of a product the same but include less of it.

“What they're doing is they're putting less cereal, fewer cookies, or less fluid into a bottle. So, you've got to start paying attention to those stickers that are below each product that say price per ounce or price per unit,” Daily said.

She knows it can be tedious to spend a lot of time in the grocery store looking closely at each product and driving from place to place to find the best deal, but she says a little legwork can save consumers a lot of money as prices continue to climb.