By: Brittany Paris
The cost of beef is expected to go up this summer about ten percent, but beef officials said the increase to the consumer is necessary.
Retail beef prices have risen steadily over the past two years. But the most recent spike is because of last year's drought, driving up cattle feed prices and shrinking the average size of cattle herds.
Jeff Stolle, Vice President of Marketing at Nebraska Cattle Association said the in-store price spike is not a choice. Even with the added costs, the cattle industry is just breaking even.
"The overall effect on the cattle industry of these price levels has not been nearly as positive as one might think when you walk by the beef counter and see the prices on the product," Stolle said.
There have been signs of weakening demand for beef.
Glen Lacy, President of Skeeter Barnes, said beef's rivals, chicken and pork, are proving to be tough competitors with more attractive price tags.
"We're seeing people trading to a lesser priced menu item, an item more cost effective," Lacy said.
Jeff Bruce, meat director at B&R, which owns Super Saver and Russ's said they haven't had to raise prices. But he said stocking up on beef couldn't hurt.
"It's always a good idea," Bruce said. "I would encourage anyone to stock up on those I know I do it myself because you just never know where it'll be in three months down the road. So if you see a good deal and got a freezer, just take advantage of it."
The ten percent increase isn't guaranteed, but we could see it as soon as March or April.