Ground beef is up, shrimp is down. How to save on a Super Bowl party.

Expect there to be plenty of in-home Super Bowl LVIIl parties this year, as great interest and anticipation builds for the big game, which this year pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Given relatively high employment and wage growth in the U.S., spending on watch parties is likely to be robust. While at-home food prices are up 1.3%, fluctuating costs in different categories of eats may present some opportunities to save — and could affect the types of meats, chips, dips and sodas on offer at hosted watch parties. 

“There is good news on the food side. If you do this in your house, it will be more affordable in a real sense. It’s not cheaper than a year ago, but it’s more affordable when you think about earnings and employment,” Wells Fargo chief agricultural economist Michael Swanson told CBS MoneyWatch.

For example, at an average price of $3.26 per, the cost of fresh chicken wings, a perennially popular choice, is down 5% compared to January 2023, according to a Wells Fargo report on food costs across categories. Frozen wings, which are down 11%, offer even deeper savings. 

“Those are pretty good declines and that’s thanks to the industry being strong, and not being able to export as much as they thought they would,” Swanson said.

It’s the cattle, not the economy

Beef, on the other hand, is in shorter supply due to record-low cattle numbers driving up prices for consumers. At an average of $9.35 per pound, sirloin steak is up 2.3% from January 2023, according to the report. Ground beef prices have risen even higher, with prices currently averaging $4.25 per pound, up almost 12% compared with January 2023.

“Steak and hamburgers aren’t cheap. It’s not about the economy, it’s about the cattle,” Swanson said. 

Still, strong employment and wage growth are expected “to keep this key player in the game,” according to the Wells Fargo report, referring to beef. 

“Overall, there’s higher employment and consumers have more income. So all spending is up, whether it’s on a new 49ers or Kansas City jersey, or the spread you put on the table,” said Swanson. 

Ceviche for the win

Ceviche and barbecue shrimp dishes will be a relative bargain compared to last year. That’s because Supplies of shrimp, the large majority of which come from Vietnam and Thailand, are solid. In January, fresh shrimp cost an average of $8.84 per pound, down 6.4% from January 2023. 

“Producers stepped on the gas and produced a lot of shrimp. They filled up freezers, and retailers are having to discount it to move it,” Swanson said.

Other ways to save

Swanson offers these three tips:

  • Consider buying store-brand snacks. When it comes to party essentials like chips and dips, consider choosing stores’ own labels over national brand name snacks. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to pay a premium for this brand?” Swanson said.
  • Choose large bottled-soda over cans. The cost of 12-ounce cans of soft drinks are up significantly, driven by the cost of aluminum and the convenience of single cans. Opt for 2-liter bottles of soda instead. 
  • Look for in-store savings deals. Promos are back. Stores are doubling down on promotions and coupons to compete for foot traffic. “During COVID and the high inflation period, there weren’t a lot of promotions or ‘buy one, get one’ or coupons. We’ve have seen that come back to what it was. It’s a competitive thing to get you in the store,” Dr. Swanson said.

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