Super Bowl food spending expected to be strong

Job growth to spur spending; certain foods offer relief for consumers

Presented by Chief Agricultural Economist, Dr. Michael Swanson, and Sector Managers David Branch, Brad Rubin, and Courtney Schmidt, Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute

The 2024 Super Bowl celebration should be lively and relatively affordable compared to recent years. Expect packed grocery stores, restaurants, and sports bars, which may require you to bring your best game to those venues. Why the rush? Credit it to a touchdown in job growth.

U.S. companies hired approximately 2.4 million more workers in January 2024, compared to January 2023. As competition for labor remains fierce, the average wage growth rose by 4.5% from the same period last year (this translates to $1.28 more per hour, bringing the average hourly pay to $29.57 per hour).

While wage growth has been impressive, consumers are still facing off against the tough opponent of food inflation. Inflation for food consumed at home has risen least, up 1.3% from January of 2023, while food consumed away from home is still on a tear, clocking a 5.3% increase from January of 2023. So, it’s likely that the economics coach will be calling upon home chefs to get in the game with this matchup.

Now let’s break down the roster of expected food and beverage superstars and support players for the big game.

Wing route

Wings remain a great option. Based on early January 2024 data, fresh and frozen chicken wings are averaging $3.26 and $3.17 respectively per lb. Fresh chicken wing prices are down approximately 5%, and the frozen wing prices are down 11%, compared to January of 2023. It was a turbulent year for the chicken industry, with high feed costs and outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) challenging producers. Even so, producers rallied, producing more and heavier chickens, to ensure adequate supply for the big game.

Cattle City beefs

The cost of beef reflects its short supply relative to other options. Record low cattle numbers have led to record high retail prices. While prices have eased from these highs, they are still at a substantial increase over beef prices for the 2023 Super Bowl. Beef is always a party winner, but this high draft pick will cost consumers more than ever, so it will pay to shop around if you plan to include beef on the menu.

  • Sirloin steak remains an all-star for any celebration. The four-week average through early January 2024 was $9.35 per lb., up 2.3% from January 2023. Retailers report that consumers are more enthusiastic about buying steak when the package price is under $10.00 per pound.
  • Ground beef prices are showing signs of improvement for the consumer but are still up considerably from a year ago as we prepare for the big game. 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. Hopefully, the improvement in employment and wages will be enough to keep this key player in the game.

Line of shrimp-age

Shrimp looks like it could line up as an eligible receiver for the celebration. The most recent four-week average saw fresh shrimp averaging $8.84 per lb., down 6.4% from early January 2023. 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.  

Special teams coverage: chips and dips

Just as big ads and even bigger half-time shows are a must for the Super Bowl, chips and dips are an absolute must for watch parties. This category highlights the issue of paying for a name. While commodity categories have seen faster slowdowns or outright declines, items with major brand names have seen steeper increases.  

  • Tortilla chips are up 6% as of the end of December 2023 when compared to December 2022. This represents the long tail to the food supply disruption of the last several years. The tide is just about run out on this phenomenon, but the consumer will still have to deal with the last of it.
  • Potato chips are up 5% as of the end of December 2023 compared to December 2022. Potato and tortilla chips are close cousins in the food aisles, with labor and packaging being big factors in their costs. This might be the year to try alternative labels which are out there fighting for consumer business.
  • Avocado dip and guacamole prices have remained fairly flat, up just 1% from at the end of December 2023 compared to December 2022. This category benefitted from the continuing supply growth in the key Mexican growing region. The raw materials cost has helped to offset the other labor and packaging costs.
  • Salsa prices are up 3% comparing end of December 2023 to December 2022. This category continues the theme of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) prices rising to reflect the labor and packaging. Here again, the consumer should shop carefully for alternative brands they might have previously overlooked. Often times, store brands and local producers are more apt to offer a value for the Super Bowl shopper.

Beverage blitz

The cooler is an important player at this yearly blowout celebration. Let’s check to see who should be starting in the big game and who might be on the injured reserve list.

  • Beer prices were up 0.7% at the end of December 2023 compared to a year previous, averaging $1.75 for a pint. The most recent data shows beer prices beginning to flatten out with very small increases as brewers and consumers seem to have come to an agreement on the new price of this beverage.
  • Soft drink pricing has placed focus on the wide gap between the price for single cans and 2-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.  In contrast, the same soft drinks in a 2-liter bottle carried a price of $2.11, down 0.8% from December 2022. The price differential has been driven by the cost of aluminum coupled with the consumer preference for the convenience of single 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.

Whether hosting a party at home or dining out with friends to view this year’s Super Bowl, consumers have options to avoid getting sidelined due to increasing costs. Cheers to a competitive, enjoyable, and delicious game!


Michael Swanson, Ph.D. is the Chief Agricultural Economist within Wells Fargo's Agri-Food Institute. His is responsible for analyzing the impact of energy on agriculture and strategic analysis for key agricultural commodities and livestock sectors. His focus includes the systems analysis of consumer food demand and its linkage to agribusiness. Additionally, he helps develop credit and risk strategies for Wells Fargo’s customers, and performs macroeconomic and international analysis on agricultural production and agribusiness.

Michael joined Wells Fargo in 2000 as a senior economist. Prior, he worked for Land O’ Lakes and supervised a portion of the supply chain for dairy products, including scheduling the production, warehousing, and distribution of more than 400 million pounds of cheese annually, and also supervised sales forecasting. Before Land O’Lakes, Michael worked for Cargill’s Colombian subsidiary, Cargill Cafetera de Manizales S.A., with responsibility for grain imports and value-added sales to feed producers and flour millers. Michael started his career as a transportation analyst with Burlington Northern Railway.

Michael received undergraduate degrees in economics and business administration from the University of St. Thomas, and both his master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Minnesota.

David Branch is a Sector Manager within the Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute focused on seafood/aquaculture, nursery/greenhouse, sugar, and other specialty crops.

David possesses greater than 30 years of lending experience. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, he worked for the Bond & Corporate Finance Group at John Hancock Financial Services where he was responsible for originating and servicing loans and private equity investments in the forest products, building materials, timber, and paper industries throughout the US, Canada, Europe, South America, and the Pacific Rim.  Previously, he worked at Travelers Insurance Company and CoBank.

David graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a Bachelor of Science. in Forestry and earned a Master of Science in Forest Economics from Louisiana State University. David currently serves on the board of The Frank Norris Foundation, a non-profit foundation that publishes the Timber-Mart South© quarterly newsletter and price reports.  

Brad Rubin is the Sector Manager for Specialty Crops within Wells Fargo’s Agri-Food Institute, and focuses on fruits and vegetables. Brad joined Wells Fargo in January 2018, having formerly worked as Chief Marketing Officer for iD Tech. Prior, he was Vice President of Operations for Kibo Commerce, an enterprise e-commerce provider. Before Kibo Commerce, Brad served as the Director of Global Operations at TransUnion and managed customer operations globally for the credit bureau’s direct-to-consumer business. 

Brad holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Courtney Buerger Schmidt is a Sector Manager within Wells Fargo’s Agri-Food Institute focused on the protein, cotton, and hay sectors. Courtney originally joined Wells Fargo in 2014 as a relationship manager within The Private Bank Wealth Management group where she spent two years prior to assuming her current role. Before Wells Fargo, Courtney spent six years as a commodity broker and research analyst with Frontier Risk Management developing hedge and risk management strategies for Agribusiness clients, and also served as assistant director of the research division that focused on livestock, grain, and oilseed.

Courtney holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics with an emphasis in finance and real estate from Texas A&M University. Courtney was recently selected for Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership (TALL) Cohort XVIII 2022-2024. She is also a member of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture Development Council .