Your Steak Might Be Extra Costly Than Ever This Grilling Season

We’ve got some bad news as we come upon the start of summer grilling season.

Thanks to a number of factors that have led to a limited supply of U.S. cattle, the cost of beef is skyrocketing, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The price of ground beef in particular is already up more than 20 percent since 2020, and it could hit a record high this summer. That trend is likely to continue into 2024.

“When you’re talking about the ultimate price of beef to a consumer, the whole chain is under these inflationary pressures,” Tom Windish, the head of Cargill’s beef division, told the WSJ. “Every step along the way is more expensive.”

Over the past few years, the meat industry has faced challenges including drought conditions, cost increases, and pandemic disruptions. In some cases, these factors have led ranchers to sell their livestock, and few see reasons to replace the cows they’ve sent to slaughter or increase the number of animals they care for. “We’re spending $1 million to make $4,000,” said Ryan Stromberger, a rancher in southwest Nebraska.

As such, the number of cattle in the United States has reached its lowest level in almost a decade, The Wall Street Journal noted. And according to Agriculture Department data cited by the newspaper, beef production in the country is set to fall by more than 2 billion pounds in 2024, the largest annual decline since 1979.

Despite the lagging supply, the demand for beef in the U.S. remains high. Grocery executives say that even though beef has a bad rap for its impact on the climate and people’s health, consumers are still stocking up on their burgers and steaks. And while chicken might be the most eaten protein in America, the beef market is worth double the poultry market, coming in at a whopping $30 billion in the year ending April 23.

So while some shoppers may decide to opt for slightly less expensive cuts as the price of beef continues to rise, they’re not necessarily going to stop buying red meat altogether. And certainly many people will continue to shell out for their rib-eyes and filet mignon.

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Source: Robb Report

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