Beef prices are on the rise, and quite rapidly. Some local markets have eclipsed five dollars a pound on ground chuck hamburger meat this afternoon. The rise could get even steeper. Beef prices leaving the processor and heading to the wholesale market have doubled in price in the last two weeks.
Unfortunately this benefits no one except large corporate meat processors who will rake in record profits during this crisis. Cattle prices are actually down and the gap is approaching all time highs in the price of beef going in the door for processing and the beef coming out the other side. So farmers do not benefit, they are actually being hurt by this. Grocery stores are having to pay extremely high wholesale prices, which angers customers when it is passed on, so they don’t benefit. Consumers of course, bear the biggest burden and certainly don’t benefit.
Other meats are also rising but not as quickly as beef prices. Still the price of chicken and pork are up and this will hurt the American consumer.
Attorneys general from 11 states have asked President Trump about the rising beef prices at the wholesale point after becoming alarmed about prices and Trump has asked the Justice Department to look into possible supply chain and price fixing by major meat processors.
This is happening at a time when people are already worried about how to pay bills due to the Covid-19 closures, the price of food skyrocketing will be a major additional burden and will considerably slow economic recovery efforts.
Some farmers are beginning the process of slaughtering and selling their own beef at the local level. State regulations have made such operations unprofitable in the past but with cattle prices falling the option is becoming more attractive to many.
However, for the foreseeable future consumers are simply going to have to choose to either pay higher prices or eat less protein.