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Higher food prices affect July Fourth festivities

A person weighs beef
A merchant weighs beef in the retail section of Wright's Meat Packing facility in Fombell, Pennsylvania. The price of ground beef is up 36% this year, ballooning the cost of many people's July Fourth cookouts. (Photo: Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

This Fourth of July Weekend, families across the country are making their way to grocery stores to prepare for cookouts. But as a result of record inflation across the country, holiday staples they typically have enjoyed likely will be more expensive this year.  

While inflation caused by pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and increased fuel costs can be seen across the economy, it’s particularly bad when it comes to food. Compounding other issues, the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused a global grain and food shortage, sending food prices higher across the globe. 

According to a survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation, a cookout for 10 people will cost 17% more this year than it had in the past. And meat is the biggest driver of the increase, as ground beef prices are up 36% this year. Prices for chicken and pork are similarly high, something that’s caught the attention of Congress

As a result of increasing prices like these, some Americans like Nikki — a shopper at The Market at 25th, who only identified themselves by their first name — are unable to afford meat on a regular basis.  

“Usually, we do like hamburgers and hotdogs for Fourth of July and whatnot. Now, it’s just, ‘Come on over and we’ll shoot some fireworks.’ That’s about it, you know?” Nikki said. 

Shaaron Atkins-Comfort, director of The Market at 25th, said she expects people looking to have a holiday cookout to be more deliberate about their purchases: researching sales, clipping coupons and eschewing name brands for store-brand items. 

Store brands might prove to be extra popular for sauces, where the difference in price can be especially noticeable. 

Additionally, Atkins-Comfort recommended having more people pitch in to bring food to a cookout or look to unconventional items like shrimp, which have not increased in price as much as other proteins. 

While missing typical cookout items might put a damper on some people’s holiday weekend, Atkins-Comfort said she's taking a different attitude. 

“This year ... it’s most likely gonna be more about the family gathering,” she said. 

Disclosure: VPM, the parent company of VPM News, has an educational programming partnership with The Market at 25th.