Average cost for cookout foods declines from last year

Prices for foods favored at summer cookouts and picnics have dropped significantly from last year, according to an informal survey of food prices conducted by Indiana Farm Bureau volunteers.

This is the second year IFB has supplemented its regular quarterly informal "market-basket" survey with a special survey geared toward those summer cookout and picnic foods. Like the quarterly surveys, the cookout market basket isn't a true survey but is instead a snapshot of grocery prices throughout the state. Indiana is one of only a few state Farm Bureaus that are doing a cookout market basket, said Isabella Chism, IFB 2nd vice president and chair of the Indiana Women's Leadership Committee, which is in charge of the market-basket survey program.

A similar survey (though using a slightly different shopping list) taken by the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation also found that prices had decreased compared to last year – from $35.49 in 2009 to $32.90 in 2010.

The cookout market basket includes enough food to feed 10 people. Items include prepared potato salad, ground round, hot dogs, baked beans, condiments, American cheese, hamburger and hotdog buns, cola and potato chips.

For 2010, the market basket survey's average total for these 11 items was $30.85 (or about $3.09 per person), down nearly $4 from the 2009 total of $34.72. Totals from the individual shoppers ranged as low as $15.88 and as high as $31.33 for the 11 items.

All but two of the items included on the survey declined in price from last year to this year. The exceptions were ground round, which increased slightly from $5.98 for 2 pounds to $6.22, and a 28-ounce can of baked beans, up 4 cents to $1.98 cents.

The average prices for the other items in the market basket are: hotdogs (1 pound), $2.10, down 70 cents from 2009; 8-count bag of hamburger buns, $1.28, down 21 cents; 8-count bag of hotdog buns, $1.30, down 14 cents; 3-pound container of prepared potato salad, $4.77, down 84 cents; 8-ounce jar of mustard, $1.28, down 14 cents; 24-ounce bottle of ketchup, $1.50, down 12 cents; 16-slice package of American cheese, $2.66, down 22 cents; two 2-liter bottles of cola, $2.60, down 40 cents; and two 11-ounce bags of potato chips, $5.16, down $1.30.

Chism said that she hopes the general price decrease might encourage some consumers to consider augmenting their standard cookout menus with fresh products from local farmers.

"Now's a good time to look into locally produced foods," she said. "Farmers markets around the state are now open for business and very soon fresh produce will be at its peak." To find a farmer in your area who offers homegrown produce, meats and other products, visit the Indiana Department of Agriculture's interactive online directory, www.in.gov/apps/ISDA_FarmersMarket/.

Food item                                                                               2009        2010

Potato salad (3 lbs., prepared)                                            $5.61        $4.77

Ground round (2 lbs.)                                                            $5.98        $6.22

Hot dogs (Oscar Mayer, 10-pack)                                      $2.80        $2.10

Baked beans (Bush's, 28-ounce can)                                $1.94        $1.98

Mustard (French's Classic, 8 oz.)                                       $1.42        $1.28

Ketchup (Red Gold, 24 oz.)                                                  $1.62        $1.50

American cheese (Kraft American, 16 slices)                      $2.88        $2.66

Hamburger buns (8-count bag)                                          $1.49        $1.28

Hot dog buns (8-count bag)                                                $1.44        $1.30

Soda (Coca-Cola, two 2-liter bottles)                                $3.00        $2.60

Potato chips (Lay's, two 11-oz. bags)                               $6.55        $5.16

Total                                                                                      $34.72      $30.85