Thursday’s "Good Morning America" used the Fourth of July holiday to exaggerate the effects that food prices are having on consumers. In its "Hitting Home" segment, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi reported on the price increases of certain Fourth of July barbecue staples, claiming that "Americans are gonna eat 110 million pounds hot dogs and that could take a big bite out of their wallets."
Today, a pack of hot dogs runs about $4.29. That's nearly seven percent more than last year. Want ketchup, mustard or relish? That costs more, too. Condiments are up about eight percent. Corn on the cob, forty-seven percent. Even that bowl of pasta salad will set you back a few more months. Pasta prices are up twenty-eight percent. Potato chips aren't any cheaper. A sixteen ounce bag runs about $3.89, up twelve percent. A two liter bottle of soda, $1.33, up nearly eleven percent. Even the Fourth of July staple, an apple pie, will take a bigger slice out of your wallet. Apples are up fourteen percent.
What Alfonsi apparently forgot is that all of these items are typically on sale at this time specifically for Fourth of July barbecues. Here in the Washington, D.C., area, the Safeway grocery store is featuring packages of Butcher’s Cut jumbo hot dogs for $0.88, buy one get one free packages of Ball Park hot dogs and two packages of Hebrew National hot dogs for $5. An eight count package of hot dog buns costs $0.99 and Doritos or Lay’s potato chips are on sale for two for $5. Finally, if you buy any two twelve-pack cans of Coke or Pepsi products, you can get three free. Is this going to take a "big bite" out of people’s wallets?
Also, Alfonsi used Christopher Waldrop of the Consumer Federation of America to say that food prices are increasing because of high energy prices. Of course, there was no mention that the mandate for ethanol in gasoline is also a factor. Further, it was never mentioned that the CFA is a liberal organization even though it is associated with Ralph Nader and his "consumer movement."
Before the Memorial Day holiday, NBC's "Nightly News" highlighted emails from viewers who claimed they had to choose hamburgers instead of ribs for their cookouts. This came after ABC's "World News" featured a hapless Massachusetts woman who could "no longer take joy rides" because she need a $45 prescription and has been forced into "buying store brands instead of name brands."
The transcript of Friday's "Good Morning America" segment, which aired at 7:17 a.m., follows:
DAVID MUIR, host: Now to our continuing series, "Hitting Home." And this morning, the high cost of celebrating the Fourth of July. Americans are going to eat, among other things, 150 million hot dogs on this Independence Day. But from the hot dog to the bun, the rising food prices have American families really feeling it so ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi has a bit of a price check when it comes to the backyard barbecue. Sharyn, good morning.
SHARYN ALFONSI, reporter: Good morning. Well, the turkey owns Thanksgiving but the hotdog, that is strictly Fourth of July territory. This weekend, Americans are gonna eat 110 million pounds hotdogs and that could take a big bite out of their wallets. The explosions this Fourth of July won't be limited to the sky. Prices on all the traditional barbecue staples are also going up. Way up.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Food prices definitely have changed. From the past couple months I do see an increase in my cash receipt.
ALFONSI: Today, a pack of hotdogs runs about $4.29. That's nearly seven percent more than last year. Want ketchup, mustard or relish? That costs more, too. Condiments are up about eight percent. Corn on the cob, forty-seven percent. Even that bowl of pasta salad will set you back a few more months. Pasta prices are up twenty-eight percent. Potato chips aren't any cheaper. A sixteen ounce bag runs about $3.89, up twelve percent. A two liter bottle of soda, $1.33, up nearly eleven percent. Even the Fourth of July staple, an apple pie, will take a bigger slice out of your wallet. Apples are up fourteen percent.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's really outrageous, I mean I don't get why we have to pay so much for the same product.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We were never coupon people. We are now.
ALFONSI: We've seen spikes in certain foods before because of weather or shortages, but experts say today's higher prices are tied to other changes.
CHRISTOPHER WALDROP, Consumer Federation of America: We're seeing high energy prices, and that's effecting what farmers are doing on the farm. In general, food prices have increased about five percent since last year and they're forecasted to increase another five percent next year.
ALFONSI: And a lot of people may be saying "hold the bun" this year because while the price of the hotdog goes up, so is the bun. The hotdog, seven percent up. The bun, twenty percent. David, Diane.
MUIR: All right, well despite the prices I hope it's a good backyard picnic.