Few people have missed the increase in prices. Everything from gas to entertainment and even food prices are on the rise. Perhaps the most painful increase is the steady rise in food prices. While all types of food are more expensive now, many people are concerned with increasing meat prices.
The spike in meat prices is hurting everyone. Not only are families trying to find ways to cut the weekly grocery bill, but restaurant owners are finding it challenging to provide meat dishes – specifically beef – at affordable prices.
What’s causing the increase in beef prices?
What’s most concerning is the rate at which farmers sell their cattle herds. According to Outsider, farmers across America are selling their cattle at an alarming pace. A lot of the sold cattle is meat stock, but there has been an increase in the number of breeding cattle going to market.
The more breeding stock farmers sell, the fewer calves will be born. And fewer calves mean less meat available to buy. It’s a dangerous cycle but farmers are forced into with the climbing prices and continued drought conditions.
Who’s feeling the effects?
The stress on farmers isn’t the only group feeling the pressure. Restaurant owners are also struggling with the increase in beef prices. These owners must reconsider a lot of their restaurant’s offerings in an effort to combat these prices.
Some people may assume the answer is to limit the beef options in restaurants. Pork and chicken are crowd-pleasing protein options. The truth is these prices are starting to climb as well. Soon the switch to pork or chicken won’t necessarily help owners save much.
Other owners have opted for changing prices or steak size. With rising beef costs, owners may choose to increase their prices meaning the consumer will bear more of the increased costs. Some owners try to be more creative by keeping their prices the same but decreasing the size of the steak – so less steak at a higher price.
The solution for the price increase depends on the size of the restaurant operation. Bigger chain restaurants can help offset the beef increase by buying bulk, but that’s not an option for smaller businesses.
This beef debacle may hit smaller restaurants the hardest. These owners don’t have the capacity, capital, or demand to buy in bulk or up their prices. For many, the only option is to omit beef options altogether.
This choice can help small restaurants’ bottom line, but it’s risky. Some restaurants make their name on beef – like barbeque restaurants. But even these restaurants are left to get creative in these challenging times.
The truth is, beef prices are up – like many necessity items – and aren’t going down anytime soon. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt. At the height of the pandemic, processing plants were faced with a significant labor shortage or forced to close altogether. These plants are still playing catch up, and it’s caused a cascading effect felt by everyone from farm to table.
Beef prices aside, consumers still want quality food at an affordable price. That means restaurant owners are left to get creative or change how they do business altogether. What are some ways of getting creative? This is where braising, smoking or using flat iron steaks, tri tip and other less used cuts of beef come in.
The past two years have been a time of almost constant change. Restaurant owners have learned to adapt, and the current beef crisis is no different.