BBQ Season: Is Budget BBQ on the Menu this Summer? 


BBQ Season: Is Budget BBQ on the Menu this Summer? 

  • Explore how soaring meat prices are reshaping summer grilling menus, pushing towards budget-friendly options like chicken and turkey. 
  • Find out how—despite financial challenges—families are innovating with new recipes and enjoying the timeless camaraderie of BBQ gatherings. 

Price changes reshape summer menus

As the aroma of BBQ smoke wafts through the air and grills across the country sizzle, a quiet concern is brewing among families in their backyard sanctuaries. Meat prices in March rose by 3%, with certain types of meat seeing higher or lower increases—or even decreases. Will these price fluctuations reshape our summer menus? 

Beef prices have shot up by 9%, and pork prices have followed suit at 5%, potentially prompting grill enthusiasts to reconsider their meat choices for the season. On the other hand, chicken prices have remained stable at 0%, providing a reliable option for those mapping out their BBQ feasts.  

Turkey prices have even taken a pleasing dip of 6%, opening doors to leaner and more budget-friendly alternatives. These trends suggest a possible transition in our BBQ spreads, with a greater focus on affordable white meats like chicken and turkey. Vegetarians and health-conscious grillers are also feeling the pinch. Fruits and vegetables have increased 3% and meat alternatives have seen increases of 7%, adding a twist to the traditional BBQ fare. 

Among other staple items experiencing price hikes are grapes (26%), avocados (14%), bell peppers (14%), and onions (11%). These changes urge us to seek out cost-effective alternatives that maintain the same level of flavor and quality, ensuring our offerings remain accessible to all. Conversely, strawberries (-3%), pineapples (-4%), potatoes (-6%), broccoli (-4%), and asparagus (-15%) have seen reductions in prices, presenting opportunities to feature these ingredients more prominently and creatively in our dishes. This shift in fruit and vegetable prices invites us to reconsider our BBQ menus, incorporating seasonal produce that not only adds vibrancy and freshness but also aligns with budget-conscious choices. 

BBQ costs infographic 2024

Consumer concerns show growing unease

However, beyond the excitement of barbecue season lies a backdrop of concern. Recent surveys show that 36% of Americans cite rising food prices as their top concern, reflecting a growing unease about the cost of living. In fact, 32% of Americans find themselves in a worse financial position than a year ago, with 74% attributing this decline to the higher cost of living.  

To combat these challenges, Americans are rethinking their shopping strategies. An overwhelming 87% of American consumers have changed how they shop to manage expenses. This includes seeking lower prices (82%), reducing overall spending (67%), switching products or brands (66%), changing stores (56%), and even adjusting product sizes (50%). 

However, the BBQ experience extends beyond the meat on the grill; it embodies moments of connection, laughter, and shared culinary adventures. Amidst the buzz of rising prices, families are embracing creativity, exploring new recipes, and finding joy in the camaraderie of backyard BBQ gatherings. 


  • NIQ, Total US xAOC,  5 weeks ending March 30, 2024 
  • NIQ 2024 Consumer Outlook vs Mid-Year 2023 Survey, US Market 
  • NIQ Consumer Outlook 2024, Global