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Why Meat Prices Will Continue To Soar

April 10th, 2014

price-tagThe average price of USDAchoice-grade beef has soared to $5.28 a pound, and the average price of a pound of bacon has skyrocketed to $5.46.  Unfortunately for those that like to eat meat, this is just the beginning of the price increases.  Due to an absolutely crippling drought that won’t let go of the western half of the country, the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951.  But back in 1951, we had less than half the number of mouths to feed.  And a devastating pig virus that has never been seen in the United States before has already killed up to 6 million pigs in this country and continues to spread like wildfire.  What all of this means is that the supply of meat is going to be tight for the foreseeable future even as demand for meat continues to go up.  This is going to result in much higher prices, and so food is going to put a much larger dent in American family budgets in the months and years to come.

One year ago, the average price of USDA choice-grade beef was $4.91.  Now it is up to $5.28, and the Los Angeles Times says that we should not expect prices to come down “any time soon”…

Come grilling season, expect your sirloin steak to come with a hearty side of sticker shock.

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Beef prices have reached all-time highs in the U.S. and aren’t expected to come down any time soon.

Extreme weather has thinned the nation’s beef cattle herds to levels last seen in 1951, when there were about half as many mouths to feed in America.

We’ve seen strong prices before but nothing this extreme,” said Dennis Smith, a commodities broker for Archer Financial Services in Chicago. This is really new territory.

The outlook for pork is even worse.  The price of bacon is 13 percent higher than it was a year ago, and porcine epidemic diarrhea is absolutely devastating the U.S. pig population

A virus never before seen in the U.S. has killed millions of baby pigs in less than a year, and with little known about how it spreads or how to stop it, it’s threatening pork production and pushing up prices by 10 percent or more.

Scientists think porcine epidemic diarrhea, which does not infect humans or other animals, came from China, but they don’t know how it got into the country or spread to 27 states since last May.

It is estimated that up to 6 million pigs may have died already, and it is being projected that U.S. pork production could be down by 7 percent this year.  That would be the largest decline in more than 30 years.

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