Ground Beef Prices Have Skyrocketed, Here's Why - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Ground Beef Prices Have Skyrocketed, Here's Why

By: Jason Rantala

@jarantala

jrantala@myabc5.com

If you've bought ground beef in the last month, you may have received a bit of sticker shock.

"That's the highest increase I've ever seen," said Dahl's Foods Meat Manager Mike Hoffman.

It's surprising even for Hoffman, who has spent 35 years in the business.

Within the last month, ground beef and chuck prices have jumped almost $2 per pound.

"You can get a steak for the same value as you can get a pound of ground beef right now," said Hoffman.

"We worry all the time about that, are we pricing ourselves away from the consumer," said feedlot operator Brian Sampson.

The Department of Agriculture says U.S. beef output will fall nearly 6 percent from last year to this year.

The USDA says feedlots added three percent fewer cattle this year compared to last.

It amounted to the second lowest cattle count for the month of December the USDA had ever recorded since record keeping began in 1996.

There are a few reasons for the decrease in production: a drought in the south and west and the fact there are now less ranchers and less land.

"Ranchers are getting older. There's not as many young people wanting to do that same job," said Sampson.

Sampson says cattle numbers come in cycles and that those cycles take time.

"I don't know if anyone can do anything about it," said Sampson.

For Dahl's Foods, even getting beef right now is hard. However, Hoffman says as the seasons change, so too will prices.

"It's short term, it goes in cycles," said Hoffman. 

Right now, Hoffman suggests buying steak instead of ground beef, or buying ground beef in bulk to save on price.

Steak demand and price are down right now.

But as soon as Valentine's Day, he says we could see steak prices double.

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