“Hot dogs instead of steaks:” Inflation hits barbecues

An elderly couple eat ice cream cones near a large Canadian flag during Canada Day festivities in West Vancouver on Monday, July 1, 2019. It’s a long weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer with potato salad and grilled meats, popsicles and lemonade, swimming and fireworks. Still, Canada Day entertainment will cost more this year, as inflation hit its highest level in nearly 40 years, Statistics Canada said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Canada Day long weekend is the perfect time for burgers on the grill, cold drinks and time with family and friends.

However, a garden barbecue costs more this year.

Food prices rose 9.7% in May from a year ago as inflation hit its highest level in nearly 40 years.

Prices for many barbecue dishes like steaks and vegetables have risen further, making entertaining with family and friends more expensive this weekend.

Using prices collected by Statistics Canada, the cost of hosting a Canada Day BBQ with eight adults and eight children today would cost $302.04, more than 17% more than in 2021 , when the bill was $257.27.

Higher prices could lead to a change in shopping and consumption habits as people look to save money on groceries.

“Prices are rising much faster than we have been accustomed to for four decades,” said Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Financial Group.

“People may start switching to cheaper items, especially when it comes to food. They may replace chicken with steak to save money, for example.”

Traveling over the long weekend will eat into budgets even more. The cost to fill up on gas and spend a night in a hotel room has risen from around $220 a year ago to around $317, or almost 44% more.

Still, the higher costs should not deter Canadians from gathering and celebrating this Canada Day.

“The pent-up demand to socialize and go out and barbecue this summer will outweigh the higher costs,” Guatieri said.

“But once households have exhausted some of their savings and pent-up demand has diminished, we may start to see a bigger shift in behavior.”

Despite skyrocketing costs, Canadians are doing better this year than last, said Angelo Melino, an economics professor at the University of Toronto.

“More Canadians are working and they are working longer hours,” he said. “The country’s GDP, the amount of goods and services we produce, has increased and consumption has increased quite dramatically.”

While some higher costs may encourage Canadians to shop for cheaper alternatives at the grocery store, prices for some BBQ staples have held steady.

“Alcohol and recreational cannabis aren’t on the rise as much as other things, so maybe beer is a cheap July 1 drink…but maybe (people will buy) hot dogs instead of steaks.”

Here is an overview of the costs of items on a typical Canada Day BBQ menu.

(Food group percentages are the average price increase in May compared to a year ago, according to Statistics Canada inflation data. Additional details on the price of a specific item are average estimates from April 2021 and April 2022, the most recent month for which price breakdowns are available and are not statistically comparable Costs are the estimated cost of groceries for a barbecue with 16 people. )

Beef: 11.2%

The cost of a kilogram of strip loin steak was $22.87 in April 2021. For a barbecue with eight adults, each consuming a steak of about half a kilogram, the cost would be $91.48. A year later, the cost was $28.80 per kilogram for a total bill of $115.20.

Chicken: 7.9%

In April 2021, chicken breasts cost $12.58 per kilogram. Two kilograms to share on the barbecue would cost $25.16. Today, with a price of $15.32 per kilogram, the cost would be $30.64.

Hot dogs, sausages: 9.9%

In April 2021, about 400 grams of sausage cost $3.76, or about $7.52 for 800 grams (about two packs). In April 2022, the cost increased to $4.09 for 400 grams, or $8.18 for 800 grams.

Bread, rolls and buns: 11.1%

White bread rose to $3.37 for 675 grams in April 2022 from $3.03 in April 2021.

Vegetables: 10.2%, fresh fruit: 11.3%

A kilogram of tomatoes went from $3.70 to $4.21, a kilogram of potatoes went from $4.22 to $4.18, a kilogram of onions went from $4.14 to $5 $.28 and romaine lettuce went from $2.63 to $3.58. The price of a cantaloupe rose to $3.28 in April from $2.82 the previous year. The cost of a lawyer rose to $2.35 in April from $1.76 the previous year.

Ice cream: 4.1%

A liter of ice cream that cost around $4.50 in 2021, or $9 for two liters, would now cost around $4.70 or $9.40 for two liters.

Fats, edible oils: 30%, Condiments, spices and vinegars: 20.6%

A liter of ketchup went from $3.32 to $4.07, mayonnaise went from $4.55 to $5.93, and vegetable oil went to $10.83 for three liters, up from 6, $48 the previous year.

Beer: 4.8%

A pack of 24 beers that cost $47.50 a year ago would cost around $49.50 today.

Wine: 4.7%

A $20 bottle of wine a year ago would cost just under $21 today, or $40 for two bottles compared to $42 today.

The total cost of hosting a Canada Day BBQ in 2021 would have been around $257.31. Today, the same barbecue would cost $302.00, or more than 17% more.

For those traveling this Canada Day weekend, inflation will hit even harder.

Traveler accommodation: 40.2%

Hotel rooms went from around $141 a year ago to around $200 in May.

Gasoline: 48%

Gasoline prices in Canada in May 2021 were $1.32 per litre. In May 2022, prices across Canada averaged $1.95 per litre. The cost of filling a 60 liter gas tank has increased from $79.20 each in 2021 to $117 each in 2021.

For a family traveling this Canada Day and refueling and staying overnight in a hotel room, the cost went from about $220.20 to $317, or almost 44% more.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 1, 2022.

Christy J. Olson