OPINION

Op-Ed: Fireworks, Food and Family: Cookout Costs Steady for Fourth of July

Garrett Hawkins
Missouri Farm Bureau

Much like Christmas and birthday wish lists, my kids have compiled their own “wish list” of fireworks for our Fourth of July celebration. My youngest took inventory of firecrackers leftover from last year (aka, a stash he had hidden) and determined we need Roman candles, bottle rockets, parachutes and artillery shells. This year’s explosions and bright lights won’t be easy on the wallet, so it’s a good thing that promising numbers from the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) annual cookout analysis show that both bellies and wallets can be full after larger Independence Day gatherings this year.

AFBF’s analysis shows the average cost of a summer cookout for 10 people remains affordable at $59.50 nationwide. Missouri residents can expect even greater discounts, with the Midwest region checking in at $56.83 – the lowest mark of the nation’s four largest regions. This cost of less than $6 per person delivers a satisfying menu comprised of cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, pork & beans, strawberries, potato chips and fresh-squeezed lemonade with ice cream and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Overall, the nation’s cost of a holiday cookout this summer is down 16 cents from last year. Of the 12 items in the 2021 Fourth of July cookout basket surveyed by AFBF, seven decreased in price compared to one year ago when prices were higher due to the pandemic. Notably, strawberries are up 22 percent from 2020 due to strong demand and the effects of several weather elements during the early 2021 harvest season.

AFBF economists note that the cost of transporting, processing and packaging farm-grown foods is a major component of the total cost of the menu. As evidenced by the lengthy lists of agritourism destinations and Missouri meat producers available on the Missouri Farm Bureau website, local options are once again helping keep costs manageable for families. So not only do delicious foods travel shorter distances and, in turn, keep more money in a Missourian’s wallet, but knowledgeable shoppers can rest easy knowing that their purchases support farmers and ranchers in nearby communities all across the state.

One of the most notable takeaways from AFBF’s annual Fourth of July cookout analysis surrounds the market habits of Americans nationwide. Before 2020, 45 percent of food was consumed away from home. However, this changed due to the pandemic. Recent research indicates that almost two-thirds of shoppers now report cooking and eating at home far more than previous years. This increase in supermarket demand led to higher retail food prices in both 2020 and 2021, compared to pre-pandemic prices in 2019.

As you and your family celebrate our nation’s birthday, remember the farmers and ranchers who carried on through global uncertainty during the past 18 months to ensure that stores remained stocked and plates stayed full – all at a reasonable cost to consumers.

Garrett Hawkins, a farmer from Appleton City, Missouri, is President of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.