Rising Grocery Prices Will Hit Labor Day Barbeques

Idaho Falls, ID – A trip to the grocery store is taking a bigger bite out of the consumer’s wallet this summer.  But just how big?  Inflation hit a 40-year high at 9.1% in June of this year.  While the rate of increase dipped slightly in July, consumers have become increasingly concerned about the cost of living in general and the cost of food in particular.  

According to recent Category Partners survey research, groceries are the number one consumer goods segment where consumers have noticed inflation, outpacing even gasoline.  A full 92% of consumers in August told Category Partners that they are somewhat or extremely concerned about inflation. 

“Our team has been closely tracking consumer sentiment and retail pricing across all of the retail perishables departments for more than a year,” shared Category Partners CEO, Tom Barnes, “consumers are feeling it and they are not shy about expressing their concern.”

“The traditional end-of-summer BBQs held over Labor Day gave our team the opportunity to encapsulate inflation in a single event across all perishables.  Meat, produce, bakery, and deli are top on the shopping list this time of year,” Barnes went on to add.  “We measured what an average Labor Day BBQ is likely to do to our collective wallets here in 2022.  On average, your end-of-summer BBQ will cost ~13% more this year compared to 2021.”  

Media and consumer attention has been squarely focused on meat price inflation for the better part of the last year and a half as meat prices have steadily risen.  As a result, percentage increases in price, appear to be tapering off.  A quarter pound of ground beef this year will come with an +8.0% price increase compared to last year.   But that 8% change comes from an already elevated basis.

Meat is not the only menu item experiencing substantial pricing impacts.  Hamburger bun prices have jumped nearly 18% higher than last year.  Other fresh departments are experiencing pressure as well.  

  • Produce: Produce is one of the highest percentage price drivers in grocery in the past 4 weeks leading up to Labor Day.  Produce is usually one of the lowest overall costs on the BBQ menu. However, price gains in this department have been more aggressive in recent months.  For example, a serving of: 

o Seedless watermelon is up nearly 20% compared to last year o Iceberg lettuce is up more than 15% compared to last year o Corn is up more than 8% compared to last year

  • Potato Chips: Potato chips are also moving this year on the price scale, at an average cost increase of +22% per serving.  
  • Condiments: Typical BBQ condiments, including ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, have experienced price increases of more than +15% during the latest four weeks compared to a year ago.  
  • Dairy:  Consumers looking to add a little cheese to their burgers are feeling the upward price pressure as well.  One example, Cheddar Cheese Blends, are up more than 9% versus this same time last year.

“The moral of the story is that beef has ‘been expensive’ for a while now and other departments are beginning to catch up,” concluded Tom Barnes, “with prices elevated and consumer concern high, retailers and suppliers offering promotions, discounts or bundles may gain some advantage and appreciation from consumers.  Finding ways to meet consumers ‘where they live’ is more important now than ever, especially as we move toward the holiday season.”



About Category Partners – a nationally recognized resource, among food companies and retailers, for delivering actionable business/consumer insights, marketing/sales plans and technology/data solutions. Category Partners is producer owned and headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, with offices in Laguna Hills, Calif., Chicago, and Wenatchee, Wash.

For more information, contact CP president Adam Brohimer, at adam.brohimer@categorypartners.com.