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NerdWallet: Beef Prices Sizzle as Summer Grilling Season Arrives

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Beef

AFBF Staff

photo credit: Right Eye Digital, Used with Permission

Grill masters and taco Tuesday fans have had good reason to wince at the price of beef lately. Beef prices have been high for years but now they’re higher than ever.

Beef is so expensive right now because drought, high grain prices and rising interest rates have made cattle farming a costly endeavor in recent years. To deal with rising operating costs, many U.S. cattle farmers reduced the size of their herds — and some got out of the business altogether. As a result, the U.S. cattle inventory is the smallest it’s been since 1951.

Smaller cattle herds means fewer cows are available for beef. But consumers have maintained a healthy appetite for it, even amid rising prices. That combination of low supply and steady demand has pushed prices higher.

Demand typically peaks in the summer, contributing to higher prices through July, especially around the Fourth of July holiday, economist Bernt Nelson told NerdWallet. “The real question will be, are we seeing some exhaustion? Will these consumers start to change over to cheaper substitutes? There’s a lot of unknowns surrounding that.”