NEW YORK – Rising prices for meat are driving up the cost consumers will pay for their Fourth of July barbecues, according to Rabobank’s 2015 BBQ Index. The average 10-person barbecue will cost approximately $1.40 more compared to 2014 when the cost of a barbecue dinner for 10 was $66.82.

“Consumers will get some relief from dairy products this Fourth of July, with both the cost of cheese and ice cream coming in 2.2 percent and 4.4 percent lower than in 2014, respectively,” said Ross Colbert, Head of Food and Agribusiness Research at Rabobank. “Unfortunately for barbecue hosts, those types of discounts do not apply to other popular commodities like beef, tomatoes and lettuce, all of which have risen in price since 2014 from 6.2 to 7.3 percent. This is the second year in a row that we’ve seen substantial price increases for retail ground beef, the center of many American barbecues.”

Meat continues to drive the cost of barbecues higher, according to Rabobank’s analysis. Prices for beef climbed another 7 percent from record levels recorded in 2014. Beef prices have jumped roughly 80 percent over the past five years on growing international demand for beef and tight supplies of beef. Once again, chicken will be the less-expensive option for consumers, Rabobank said, with savings of up to 10 percent (or $2) for those consumers who opt for chicken burgers over beef burgers.

Also on the upswing are prices for produce. Prices for tomatoes, for example, climbed 6.8 percent from 2014 while prices for pickles increased 3.6 percent. Lettuce prices also were higher by 6.2 percent. Persistent and severe drought in California is partly to blame, according to Rabobank. However, vegetables represent the lowest percentage of overall barbecue costs.

BYOB policies may provide a price break for barbecue hosts. But guests can expect to pay more for craft beers, which have spurred increases in prices for domestic and premium labels. Soda prices also are climbing, but only by 0.9 percent over 2014. Rabobank noted that beer costs account for 28 percent of the total barbecue expenses.

We all scream for ice cream, so it’s positive news that prices for dairy products have eased in 2015, Rabobank said in its analysis. Meanwhile, prices for bread and potato chips climbed this year.
The Rabobank BBQ Index uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor to check prices and track changes for barbecue essentials — from burgers to ice cream.