An informal survey conducted by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation found consumers can enjoy a retail price cut on basic picnic food items this summer and feed 10 people for less than $4 per person.
The study used volunteer shoppers around the state to check retail non-sale prices on hot dogs, ground beef, hot dog and hamburger buns, deli potato salad, premixed lemonade, single-serving containers of chocolate milk, baby carrots, broccoli florets, corn chips, baked beans and watermelon.
The average cost of a picnic for 10 people was $39.73, or $3.97 per person. The highest grocery bill was from Fauquier County at $54.23. Floyd County had the lowest cost at $26.37. The most costly item on the menu was 2 pounds of ground beef at $9.02 on average, and the lowest-priced item was an 8-ounce package of baby carrots at $1.37.
“Cattle prices have very recently traded at levels that they’ve never seen before on the Chicago mercantile exchange, which has manifested itself in cash prices for producers, very high prices,” said Jonah Bowles, VFBF senior agriculture market analyst. “It’s good news for farmers who produce beef cattle.”
At the same time, consumers might be rethinking their favorite cuts of meat for cookouts. “Faced with higher prices for beef, the first inclination is not to forsake beef but to change the type of beef that we eat,” Bowles said. “And for that reason, in the United States we are now consuming more hamburger” than costlier cuts of beef. “However, during the summer consumers decide how they spend their dollars, and very seldom are they going to say, ‘I’m not going to grill a steak on the grill or buy the higher-quality ground beef.’ So we can see the consumption of beef—even higher-priced beef—increase during the barbecue season.”
The VFBF picnic survey is part of a series of surveys done by Farm Bureau volunteer leadership to show the average cost of basic food items in the commonwealth. The organization also conducts an annual Thanksgiving meal survey each fall.