Why are beef prices suddenly so high?

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

If you enjoy a good steak or a freshly grilled burger, brace yourself. The news isn’t good. Beef prices, which have been rising since last year, continue to rise. According to the USDA, you can expect that trend to continue, with increases of 5 to 6% this year. Why? Simple supply and demand, with a lot of help from Mother Nature. Beef production has been severely curtailed since last year because of drought. Combine that with higher consumer demand, and you get a perfect storm of pricey beef.

The result: increased prices are often passed on to the consumer. Prices for steak, hamburgers and the like have gone up at many restaurants, and good luck if you’re hoping to save a little money by buying your own beef at the grocery store. The average price of fresh beef just hit another record high in March, at $6.079 per pound. If you have a, uhm, beef with this trend, here are some suggestions to help get you through until prices stabilize or go down.

  • Use proper portions with the beef you do buy, then freeze the rest. Beef can be kept frozen for up to 12 months, and ground beef for 3-4 months. (Remember to write the date on the freezer bag, too.)
  • Choose frozen packaged beef. Pound-for-pound it’s often more cost-effective than fresh and can taste just as good.
  • Diversify your meat choices. Restaurant menus and grocery stores, for example, usually have ample selections of other meat, so consider pork instead of steak, and ground turkey instead of ground beef. Both options would also offer you health benefits.
  • Try adding some plant-based recipes to your menu. Check out these 10 Plant Based Meals or these 8 Tantalizing Meatless Meals. >

The bottom line on beef: At some point, perhaps later in the year, beef prices should at least start moderating. Until then, make smart choices and you can still eat well, regardless of how beefy the prices currently are.

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