Why are beef prices so high…
when gas prices are so low?
Isn’t it great that gas prices are so low. I feel like I’m putting a $10.00 bill in my pocket every time I gas up. On the other hand, my wife just informed me that a pound of extra-lean ground beef at Costco is $5.99. WOW! six bucks a pound for hamburger meat. It’s good to know that the price of gas and the price of meat are not correlated. We can celebrate the (temporarily) low price of gas, while at the same time try to figure out if we can afford a steak for dinner.
What is going on with the cost of beef? 2014 has seen steady monthly increases in already high beef prices. Will it end soon? Sorry to say, but the experts say beef prices will continue upward for the next few of years while supply catches up with demand. According to *Oklahoma State University livestock economist, Dr. Derrell Peel, the inventory of cattle has not been this low since 1951. While breeding bounced back in 2014, that means at least 2017 before we see a marked increase in beef products available at retail.
Who’s at fault? In the end, we could blame the weather…REALLY! We’ve had an extended drought in big grain producing states, as well as in Canada. Without feed available, ranchers reduced cattle inventories, and as a result meat prices have skyrocketed.
What can be done? Some consumers are changing to cheaper and smaller beef cuts. Some buyers are searching for protein substitutes such as chicken and pork, or even vegetarian solutions. Many are following the painful steps of adjusting their budgets in other ways to accommodate the higher beef costs.
No matter how you deal with this reality there are tradeoffs to be made. In many cases, it simply works out to a daily balancing act of when to splurge a bit for a roast, and then switch to a vegetarian day to pick up some savings (and get a healthier diet) at the same time.
Once we have adjusted to the high cost of beef, we need to settle in for the long haul because it’s at least 2-3 more years before we get any relief. To look on the bright side, most of us could benefit from a diet with fewer beef products. Hello Chickee!
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*Fox23 Tulsa, Oklahoma