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How much more will your July 4 barbecue cost this year?


Maybe you already have the grill going, or maybe you have a little bit more shopping before the big July Fourth barbecue. Either way, those burgers, buns - don't forget the toppings - are going to cost more. And our next guest is just out with a report analyzing how much more. David Branch is senior vice president for food and agribusiness at Wells Fargo, and he joins us from Charlotte, N.C.

Hi, David.

DAVID BRANCH: Hi, Shannon.

BOND: So tell me, what kind of price increases are we looking at when it comes to these July Fourth barbecues?

BRANCH: Well, we essentially created a sample menu for 10 people, and we just compared what prices are today on average across the country versus what they were the last Fourth of July. And we came with a bottom line of about 11% increase, which sort of ties with what we're seeing just in the general consumer price index jump from year over year.

BOND: And what kind of items are we talking about here? Like, give me some of the variables here.

BRANCH: So we're looking at ground beef and hot dogs and fruit and corn on the cob and, you know, all these different items and desserts and everything else. And we just kind of created a basket just so we'd have some things to compare.

BOND: So what's going on here? Is this all about inflation?

BRANCH: It's a combination. Quite frankly, protein prices are really driving the whole boat here. And it's the leading pain point for consumers. We're talking beef, chicken. What's driving that is feed costs are probably up over 100% right now over a couple of years ago. Couple that with the cost of diesel, transportation, logistics that we've been having issues with, import problems and everything else - it's all just kind of coming together.

BOND: So I understand you do have some tips for people who want to get their guests fed but also save a few dollars. So where should people be looking?

BRANCH: Well, one of the things we noticed is pork - it remains a value, and it's the only protein that's really right now, from what we can see, showing an increase in retail demand this year. So pork chops just went up 3.1% versus 12 to 15% for other proteins. Another thing we looked at is - let's look at different proteins. One of the things we looked at is let's try some shrimp tacos. When you look at the per unit cost feeding someone, to make a burger, you got to do maybe a six ounce patty and buy three or four pounds for 10 people. With shrimp, you put three or four shrimp in a taco, and we're good. So you can get away with one to two pounds. And on a per-person basis, it's going to be a lot cheaper.

BOND: All right, so we should be putting shrimp tacos, maybe pulled pork sandwiches on our menus. What about drinks?

BRANCH: Sodas are up over 30%. It's just crazy. We are seeing craft beers and premium brands are up significant, but wine has not gone up near as much. It's only up, like, 5.8% compared to what beer and soda has gone up. We also say, you know, let's go back the old-fashioned way, and get your bag of lemons and some water and some sugar and make your own lemonade. You know, it's a lot cheaper.

BOND: Keep your kids busy doing that, too.

BRANCH: Exactly. They will enjoy it.

BOND: So before I let you go, what's on your menu for the Fourth of July? Do you have any tips?

BRANCH: Yeah, I'm doing shrimp tacos. I'm going to smoke a brisket. I usually do something on the burger side and maybe a beef tri-tip, but those are priced out. So I'm doing that and doing some homemade potato salad. And got some fresh tomatoes that coming in here from the farmers market. So we're just going to have sliced fresh tomato salad and make our own ice cream. We got fresh peaches coming in, so...

BOND: Oh, man, that sounds amazing. Well, I'll be over.

BRANCH: Come on.

BOND: Thanks so much. That was David Branch, senior vice president for food and agribusiness at Wells Fargo. Thanks, David, for joining us, and Happy Fourth.

BRANCH: Thanks, Shannon. And Happy Fourth to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Shannon Bond is a business correspondent at NPR, covering technology and how Silicon Valley's biggest companies are transforming how we live, work and communicate.

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