Beef, pork prices up

Published 1:23 am Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Marie Pate shps for beef Monday at Pic-N-Save.

Marie Pate shps for beef Monday at Pic-N-Save.

Summertime has arrived, and with it comes longer afternoons perfect for cooking out. This year, however, with the rising temperatures have come rising prices on beef and pork, and many locals say the price jumps are causing them to drop money on meat less frequently.

“You do restrict yourself a little bit,” Andalusia resident Marie Pate said Monday while shopping for beef at Pic-N-Save. “I sort of look around more. Prices are going up, so maybe you only buy one piece of meat a week. If you have a big family, you still have to buy it.”

Pate said, not only are price increases affecting how much meat a person buys, it is also impacting the quality.

“Just about the only thing you can find with a bone in it is a roast,” she said. “It’s hard to find a good t-bone, and the bone is the most important piece of meat. It’s what gives it flavor.”

Pic-N-Save manager Chris Sherwood said the rising cost of beef and pork has had an effect on the kinds of meat people are buying.

“They’re buying a lot more chicken,” he said. “The price of pork has doubled in the last two months. It came down just a little bit lately, but it’s been high. It’s worse than the beef.”

Across the country, the story is the same. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of 100 percent ground beef had gone up in the average U.S. city 3.8 percent from April 2013 to March 2014. The price of pork chops has risen even higher, up 5.8 percent from April 2013 to March of this year.

So, what gives?

Covington County Extension Coordinator Charles Simon said it is a matter of not enough supply to meet the large demand.

“It’s all inventory,” Simon said. “The inventory is down. We’ve got the same number of cattle that we had in the 1950s.”

And Simon said the steady decrease in cattle isn’t something that can be blamed on just one thing.

“There’ve been droughts,” he said. “People are selling out. Older farmers are retiring and getting out of it. The price of corn has gone up, so you’re always scrambling around for a cheaper alternative.”

But, Simon said economics dictate the high prices won’t last forever.

“If prices stay high, you might see some expansion with people trying to cash in on it,” he said. “The inventory will build back up. That’s the typical economic model. They could get in and overproduce and the price could go back down.”

In the mean time, this summer’s barbecue season may see a change in the starting lineup.