Check the Price Tag Before Buying a Bottle of Ketchup for Your Memorial Day Barbecue

Check the Price Tag Before Buying a Bottle of Ketchup for Your Memorial Day Barbecue
In this photo illustration, Heinz Tomato Ketchup is shown in Chicago, Ill., on March 25, 2015. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

With Memorial Day approaching, Americans will be purchasing ketchup, mustard, and other condiments en masse—and inflation will play a role.

A 32-ounce bottle of ketchup went from an average of $4.08 for the week of May 16, 2022, to $5.22 for the week of May 15, 2023, according to data that was compiled by Datasembly, which measures grocery price changes in stores across the United States, for CNN and other news outlets. That's an increase of around 28 percent.

In the same time period, a 20-ounce bottle of mustard went up by 13 percent. Prices for 26-ounce jars of relish were also up 12.3 percent on average, according to the company.

“Most people will be paying more for the hamburger bun and condiments than they did a year ago, and the price of beer has also increased,” David Ortega, a food economist and associate professor at Michigan State University, told the New York Post.

Beef hot dog prices only went up 3 percent, while the price of 80/20 fresh ground beef hamburgers remained the same, the Datasembly data shows. Together, hot dogs, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, relish, hamburgers, ketchup, and mustard cost about 9 percent more in 2023 than last year.

The past year until April 2023, grocery prices were up 7.1 percent, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation for consumers. Prices overall rose about 4.9 percent, which was higher than anticipated.
“I think a lot of manufacturers are still challenged with the cost of ingredients,” Carman Allison, with Nielsen IQ, told CNN, noting that high commodity prices like wheat and sugar remain elevated.

When the CPI numbers were released earlier this month, Ryan Young, a senior economist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said that the figures worry him.

“Today’s core CPI numbers are especially troubling,” he said. “Volatile food and energy prices distort CPI readings by moving around for reasons having nothing to do with monetary inflation. Core CPI removes those numbers to get a clearer picture. April’s core CPI number is 5.5 percent over the last year, compared to 4.9 percent for the headline CPI number.”

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve officials have indicated that the central bank could again raise interest rates if the CPI and other price pressure metrics don't decrease. In recent months, the Fed has repeatedly increased rates and again raised rates by 25 basis points during its most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on May 2 to May 3.

“Because of the lag between policy actions and their [FOMC] effects, it will take time for the FOMC’s actions to restore balance to the economy and return inflation to our 2 percent target,” New York Fed Bank President John Williams said in recent prepared remarks. The next FOMC meeting is scheduled for late June.

Prices Up Worldwide

It comes as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 127.2 points last month against 126.5 for March, the agency said on Friday. The Rome-based agency said the April rise reflected higher prices for sugar, meat, and rice, which offset declines in the cereals, dairy, and vegetable oil price indices.

"As economies recover from significant slowdowns, demand will increase, exerting upward pressure on food prices," said FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero earlier in May. The sugar price index surged 17.6 percent from March, hitting its highest level since October 2011.

FAO said the rise was linked to concerns of tighter supplies following downward revisions to production forecasts for India and China, along with lower-than-expected outputs in Thailand and the European Union. While the meat index rose 1.3 percent month-on-month, dairy prices dipped 1.7 percent, vegetable oil prices fell 1.3 percent and the cereal price index shed 1.7 percent, with a decline in world prices of all major grains outweighing an increase in rice prices.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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