As Americans continue to play defense against rising food costs, overall inflation has finally started to cool down. Yet with food costs remaining slightly up since last year's Big Game, here's what you can expect to spend on Super Bowl food staples if you're hosting Chiefs or Niners fans next Sunday, and the best ways to save.
Super Bowl Food Prices Explained
The cost of food at home – that is, ingredients or products from grocery stores that you would cook at home – rose 1.3% since last year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while food away from home – what we purchase at bars and restaurants – jumped by 5.2%. That's something to keep in mind when deciding whether to watch the game at home, or head out to your favorite sports bar.
Some foods are synonymous with Super Bowl Sunday, like chicken wings or chips and dip. In looking at average prices of the popular snacks, there's one food that's a solid pick when it considering which may be the most cost-effective purchase.
Americans are expected to consume a whopping 1.45 billion chicken wings during Super Bowl LVII weekend. That's about the same number eaten last year, according to the National Chicken Council (NCC).
However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported chicken production levels are slightly down from last year, with wing stocks in cold storage down 13% in volume compared to the same time last year. Citing that data, the NCC suggested that "could explain the higher demand and thus the higher wholesale prices we are seeing on wings."
At the retail level, the price of fresh chicken wings is down approximately 5%, while frozen wing prices are down 11% compared to January 2023, according to a new agriculture report from Wells Fargo and their chief agricultural economist, Dr. Michael Swanson.
"It was a turbulent year for the chicken industry, with high feed costs and outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) challenging producers," the report stated. "Even so, producers rallied, producing more and heavier chickens, to ensure adequate supply for the big game."
Record-low cattle numbers have led to record-high retail prices for beef, the Wells Fargo report stated, so adding it to your shopping cart will come with a substantial cost increase over the same time last year, when Kansas City's Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes last stepped onto the Super Bowl gridiron.
"The most recent four-week average from early January 2024 showed prices as high as $4.25 per lb., up nearly 12% from the same time last year," the Wells Fargo report stated.
Good news for ceviche, taco and shrimp cocktail fans: the price of fresh shrimp is down nearly 6.4% since last January, at $8.84 per lb., according to the Wells Fargo pre-Super Bowl forecast, which looked at the most recent four-week retail average.
"Global producers flaunted strong production, and they are looking for the U.S. consumer to get in the game by grilling more shrimp or preparing a shrimp ceviche," according to the bank's agriculture analysis.
Chips and dip
The must-have Super Bowl snacks highlight the notion of paying more for the brand on the bag.
Wells Fargo found that "while commodity categories have seen faster slowdowns or outright declines, items with major brand names have seen steeper increases."
Tortilla chip prices increased by 6% year over year by the end of December 2023 and potato chips were up 5% in the same time period, mainly due to the effect of labor and packaging factors.
Guacamole and avocado dips, however, are only up 1% from last December, thanks to stronger supply from the key Mexican growing region.
Salsa prices are up 3% for the same time period, which again is largely due to the same theme of prices rising to reflect increased labor and packaging costs.
To save money, analysts recommend opting for alternative brands and checking with local producers to find more value ahead of the Super Bowl.
The cooler, whether keeping drinks on ice or being used for overflow seating, is a key player at any Super Bowl celebration. Wells Fargo economists found that while beer prices rose less than one full percent since last year, the average price of a cold beer has settled to around $1.75 per pint.
As for soft drink options, the price differences largely come up when looking at the price of single cans versus two-liter bottles.
"Late December 2023 data showed soft drinks in a 12-ounce can priced at $0.57, up 4.8% from year end 2022," the report said. "In contrast, the same soft drinks in a 2-liter bottle carried a price of $2.11, down 0.8% from December 2022."
That price difference, Wells Fargo reported, is driven by the cost of aluminum, and by consumer preference for the convenience of individual cans.
"It should be noted that soft drinks as a category have seen the highest food inflation spike since the start of COVID in 2020, with the 12-ounce can category up 57% and the 2-liter bottle category having increased by 33% since that time," the analysts added.