Tags: Consumers | Beef | Meat | Prices

Consumers' Beef: High Meat Prices Are Headed Higher

By    |   Sunday, 23 February 2014 05:53 PM

Rising beef prices may be here to stay, meaning “tomorrow’s hamburger may cost as much as today’s steak,” according to MarketWatch.

The reasons are a smaller U.S. cattle herd, drought conditions in the beef belt, and growing international demand.

Government data showed ground beef prices rose 5 percent last year to an average of almost
$3.50 per pound for 100 percent ground beef.

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Experts MarketWatch talked to expect more of this same going forward.

Don Close, a cattle economist with Rago AgriFinance, predicts a 7-8 percent rise this year, and about the same next year.

Kevin Good, a senior analyst at CattleFax, estimated consumers could pay 5-10% more for
steak, and 10-15% more for ground beef.

A Bloomberg survey reported the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk to a 63-year low. Drought conditions, plus higher grain prices helped cause the shrinkage, according to Close.

And while MarketWatch reported cattle numbers are now headed back up, relief is unlikely to come in the short run; it takes about three years from the time a calf is born for its offspring to be ready for market.

What is a consumer to do?

Erin Chase, a consumer shopping expert for Savings.com, said consumers should ask their grocery store when beef items are going on sale and then look for coupons.

“Typically, meat goes on sale for a week at a time,” Chase said, and recommended shoppers stock up when the sales occur and freeze the extra meat.

KOLO-TV in Reno, Nev., reported the drought in California could result in higher prices not only for meat, but for milk and produce.

An American University study found that when the prices of fruits and vegetables rise, families may buy less of them and substitute cheaper foods with more calories. The research found a link between higher fruit and vegetable prices and higher body fat among children.

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Rising beef prices may be here to stay, meaning "tomorrow's hamburger may cost as much as today's steak," according to MarketWatch.
Sunday, 23 February 2014 05:53 PM
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