Meat Prices Are Rising: Stock Up While You Can!

Categories: Meat

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Paleo purists may need to bolster the salad component of their diets: The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports soaring meat and poultry prices nationwide.

How do you feel about paying 7 percent more for Pride of the Farm center-cut pork steaks at Schnucks -- a price increase from $2.84 to $3.04 per pound from January to February?

Would you pay 34.4 percent more than last February's prices for boneless, skinless chicken breasts at Price Chopper?

Gut Check got Teri Gault, CEO and founder of grocery-chain price monitoring site, on the blower to pose the single question that should be on the mind of every St. Louis carnivore:

Teri, Where's the beef?

image via USDA
A screenshot of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's meat, poultry and dairy retail-price spreadsheet for 2011-12. To download the entire spreadsheet, click here.
Gault says the rise in meat prices is a direct result of this past summer's drought, which at its height affected 80 percent of the Lower 48. Cattle and other grazing animals rely on grass, which dried up across the country during the drought. Missouri was hit particularly hard.

The USDA is anticipating a 3 percent to 4 percent increase in the price of meat nationwide, but Gault dismisses the federal agency's estimate.

"They're always way too conservative," the CEO says. "Every time they make their projections, they're always way below. I think they're trying not to make massive panic go on."

Are these increases enough to make people panic? You be the judge.

USDA stats from 2012 (and remember, Gault thinks the USDA's stats are conservative) list the following seismic price shifts:

  • Lean and extra-lean ground beef up 8.47 percent, from $3.88 to $4.21 per pound.
  • USDA Choice boneless sirloin up 5.94 percent, from $6.40 to $6.78 per pound.
  • Pork chops down 3.54 percent, from $3.59 to $3.47 per pound.
  • Whole chickens up 11.09 percent, from $1.33 to $1.48 per ound.
  • Eggs up 3.51 percent, from $1.94 to $2.01 per dozen.

Gault says there are ways to keep your meat-and-poultry jones satiated without breaking the bank. The best strategy: shop sales.

"I never buy meat full price," Gault says, adding that Schnucks in particular offers lower prices than many grocery chains in the U.S.

Think of your grocery-shopping experience like playing the stock (yard) market. When sale prices on meat reach a number you can afford, buy!

Gut Check has a call in to Dierbergs to get the store's take on the rising price of meat -- and the grocery price tracker's Schnucks-love.

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