The Backyard Barbecue Isn’t As Popular As It Used To Be

Though visions of hamburgers and hotdogs may be dancing through your head as we approach the Labor Day holiday weekend, the heyday of the backyard barbecue has come and gone, some say, partly because of the high price of beef.

Before you start clanging your cooking tongs in disbelief, it’s not that grilling outside is going away or no one’s doing it, it’s just that not as many people are cooking in the open air as before: after two decades of increasing popularity, the percentage of U.S. homes using their barbecue grill for a main meal in a typical two-week period dropped to 35% last year from 40% in 2009, Bloomberg reports, citing data from market researcher NPD group.

One factor? Beef prices have been going up, with the price of a boneless steak sirloin reaching a record $8.84 per pound. Steak makes up 21% of dinners on the grill at home, in comparison to 32% in 1985. Burgers also aren’t as popular, NPD says.

(If you do make burgers at home, here are four ways you can cook up some juicy ones safely)

There’s also factors like the Polar Vortex pushing people indoors to cook, and more Hispanic and Asian consumers and the younger generation going for different, international flavors.

People aren’t buying grills and smokers as much as before either, with shipments for both hitting their peak in North America in 2007, sliding three years straight through 2013.

“Barbecuing is not going away,” Darren Seifer, a New York-based food and beverage analyst at NPD told Bloomberg. “It’s just that it’s peaked.”

The good news for the roughly two-thirds of households who will be heading out to the yard and firing up the grill this weekend: wholesale pork prices are down, and supermarkets are likely to respond by offering good deals on the other white meat.

If you do choose to barbecue or smoke food outdoors this weekend, remember to keep your grill a safe distance from any structures. Any way you cook it, happy eating and have a safe and delightful Labor Day weekend.

We’ve Hit Peak Barbecue, and Steak Prices Are Partly to Blame [Bloomberg]