Beef at 27 year high, as other meats skyrocket

ATLANTA -- From the auction house, to your house, the price of beef is reaching record highs.

"Our tenderloins have gone up a couple dollars a pound," said Rick Watson, a chef and General Manager at Oak Grove Market in Decatur.

But Watson says, so far he hasn't passed the cost on to customers.

Neither has Grindhouse Killer Burgers, where meat is king. Owner Alex Brounstein says a bacon cheeseburger costs almost 50 cents more to produce right now, just in the added costs of pork and beef. But Brounstein says he's working hard not to pass that cost onto his customers.

"We're just taking a hit right now hoping its temporary thing," said Watson.

Texas Rancher Pete Scarmardo says that's wishful thinking.

"I think before we see much relief in the grocery store it could be at least 3 or 4 years," Scarmardo said while at auction where many were hoping to build back up their herd.

Scarmardo says many had to sell their cattle or send them to slaughter during the drought because it got too expensive to buy feed. But gestation rates and simply the cost of a cow, make it difficult to regain herd numbers quickly.

Kirk Halpern, the CEO of Atlanta based Halperns' Purveyors of Steak & Seafood, says you can also blame our growing global economy. Simply put more people in places like China, can afford meat. Halpern says its not just beef. It may be up 17% from this time last year, but lamb is up 40%. Pork up 47%. Chicken went up 22% in the past two years and seafood has also experienced similar price increases.

With Easter weekend approaching both lamb and ham are in demand. Grocers say you will likely pay more for those products than last year, but doubt the full increase will be passed on.

Halpern says overall, you may not notice it as much as you think, at least in the short run. Like Oak Grove Market, he says many are trying to absorb the costs, promoting other products where they can still make a profit to offset their losses. Halpern believes that will be especially true at restaurants.

"People just don't have as much disposable money as they had before. And those that do are concerned in spending it," he said.

Economists say right now, the key to saving money might be a good freezer. Shop the sales when they happen. Halpern says now is also a good time to be open to different cuts of meat, or even different types.


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