WEST BEND — Grilling out for the family on Fourth of July weekend just got pricier as brats, burgers, and chicken jump in cost due to the soaring demand that has been compounded by the pandemic.
With the U.S. experiencing near-record high prices in meat, local grocery stores and meat markets are bearing the brunt of these inflation rates. Ben Houle, founder and chief executive officer of West Bend Sausage Plus, said their store is trying to keep prices as reasonable as possible.
“We’re paying a lot, so our customers don’t have to,” Houle said. “We appreciate everyone hanging in there as prices go up, and eventually, we expect prices to fall back down come the end of summer.”
According to a Wisconsin Farm Bureau report, the average cost to feed a party of 10 at a Fourth of July cookout will be $60.35, which is $3.88 more than the price in 2019. The report also said while supply issues that were witnessed at the beginning of the pandemic resolved themselves, demand for food products remains at a high, which has led to robust prices, particularly in protein products.
Jessica Benzing, an employee at Gehring’s Meat Market in Hartford, said chicken breast prices at their store have gone up drastically just within the past two months. In May, chicken breasts at Gehring’s cost $3.79 and now the price has leaped to $4.29 per pound, which is about a 13% increase.
“We’re not going to sell bad products just to keep the prices cheap,” Benzing said. “We just ask our customers to trust that they’re getting the best for what they’re paying for.”
The cost of transporting, processing, and packaging farm-grown foods so they’re ready for the table is also a major component of the total cost listed in grocery stores, according to a report from the American Farm Bureau Federation. Although many local grocery store owners are hopeful for a return to normal prices by the end of grilling season, some experts predict that this demand for meats will have a lasting impact on the cost of barbecuing.
More costly cookout
How much prices have increased since 2019:
■ Brats and burgers by $1 (20%)
■ Pork spare ribs by $1.96 (17.8%)
■ Ground beef by $0.82 (9.3%)
■ Ketchup by $0.09 (7.4%)
■ Potato salad by $0.57 (6.3%)
Sources: Wisconsin Farm Bureau and West Bend Sausage Plus