Retail meat prices: Up, up and away

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Red Angus Summer grilling season will cost meat lovers a few more dollars this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Wholesale meat prices climbed higher during the first quarter of the year and retail meat prices quickly followed suit.

“Retail prices for beef and pork cuts have steadily pushed into new record territory,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist.

“For pork, the average retail price per pound in March – $3.83 – was higher than the prior four months and eclipsed the record level set last fall,” Anderson said.

“For beef, the price move in March was more dramatic. Consumers saw the sixth straight month of new record retail prices for fresh beef products, at $5.40 per pound, which is a 23-percent increase compared to the 2010-2012 average,” he explained.

The sharp increase in retail beef prices has not occurred in a vacuum, Anderson noted. Retail pork prices are currently 18 percent higher than in 2010-2012 while chicken is up 9 percent.

“Farmers and ranchers are raising smaller numbers of hogs and cattle. This is the key factor contributing to higher retail meat prices, a trend that is likely to continue through the summer and, at least for beef, into next year,” Anderson said.

The long-term effects of searing back-to-back droughts in 2011 and 2012 resulted in less feed available for cattle, and ultimately forced a substantial decline in cattle numbers that is now resulting in lower beef production. Year-to-date beef production is down by close to 5 percent according to the Agriculture Department.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus or PEDv, a serious hog disease that poses no risk to humans or food safety, is expected to result in a 2 percent decline in 2014 production according to USDA, further influencing retail prices for bacon, ham, pork chops and other products.

The good news for consumers is that although they will pay a bit more for meats this summer, there will be plenty of everyone’s favorites to go around.

“Meat supplies will continue to be plentiful,” said Anderson. “From burgers to brats, steaks to chops and everything in between, consumers will have no problem finding their favorite meats for summer barbeques and cook-outs,” he said.

Source: American Farm Bureau Federation

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May, 08, 2014 at 10:45 AM

What a scam! You tell us in the first part of the article all about how drought and disease have driven up retail prices due to scarcity. Then you close your article by telling us there is no shortage and that is good news. What you have told us is there is no excuse for these absurdly high prices. Just like gasoline - there is no shortage, just high prices. Plenty enough to go around if you are rich enough to afford it. Screw you ripoff artists. we are getting pretty sick of being cheated all the time. Obama keeps telling us there is no inflation. More lies.

NC  |  May, 09, 2014 at 09:09 AM

There's a big difference between reduced supply and shortages. Higher prices usually result in families like mine eating less meat overall, and splurging for better cuts less often. Because this is the usual result of higher prices, product is still available, therefore, no "shortages." As for no inflation according to Obama--the government removes food and energy from their inflation index. The government figures mean nothing and anyone who pays attention to them is foolish.

Texas  |  May, 09, 2014 at 02:25 PM

Yes! and Yes! We have droughts, and we have excessive rains somewhere, and sometimes at the "wrong times" to be ideal, but the one sure thing, and the Farm Bureau advocates the policy, is that stupid us continues to allow EPA to push for 40% of our corn crop to be burned, allowing for continued high feed costs. AND FOR WHAT REASON?

SD  |  May, 14, 2014 at 02:18 PM

Yes, there may be some 'scarcity' of beef.......partly due to the fact that so many people have stopped raising cattle because they could not stand the low income and the extremely hard work that it is. Partly due to the fact that we who remain in the business largely are people willing to do what we need to to produce higher quality cattle which become higher quality beef, which we are, at last, getting paid for! Not lavishly rewarded, simply paid a bit more than what it costs to raise them, and a modest living for our families in the deal. Another reason there is beef available is that some beef is imported, of leaner cuts to make leaner hamburger from the fatty trim from our high quality USA produced cattle.

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