U.S. Beef Prices Are Set to Rise: Here’s Why

Quentin Blount03/06/22

Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

How much are you willing to pay for a steak right now, Outsiders? You may have your limits tested if the U.S. beef prices get any higher.

Inflation is on the rise and we are currently feeling it from a lot of different angles. However, one product in particular that has been hitting our pockets hard is beef. What’s unfortunate is that the steep price increases we’ve already seen may be just the beginning.

What You Need To Know

  • People have been willing to pay “phenomenal” prices for beef during the pandemic
  • Some American shoppers might start switching to othe sources of protein
  • Boneless sirloin steak was $10.83 a pound in Janurary 2022, which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the most its been since 1989
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine could also affect the global meat market

What Exactly Is Causing U.S. Beef Prices to Skyrocket?

Now, you may be thinking that all the costs of all meats are up right now, not just beef. You would be right about that, of course. But the fact of the matter is that beef prices are up disproportionately compared to the prices of other protein types.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that prices of beef are up just over 20 percent from 2020 to 2021. During the same time period, the price of pork is up 14 percent, chicken 8.8 percent, fresh fish and seafood 11 percent, and eggs 11.6 percent. There’s no telling what those figures will look like at the end of 2022.

So, why exactly has the price of beef in the U.S. skyrocketed? Well, you can’t just pin the blame on one thing. Several different factors leading to the dramatic rise in the cost of beef can be traced back to 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced meat production plants to shut down. The halt in production left farmers with nowhere to send their beef. In fact, many farmers made the decision to scale back their production.

Ted Schroeder is an agricultural economist at Kansas State University. He explained that not only have costs been high for consumers, but they have also been high for meat producers as well.

“From land to labor to inputs, everywhere you look, costs for meat producers are higher,” he said.

Meanwhile, meat processing facilities have been dealing with labor shortages. That means that they simply cannot process the same amount of meat as they once were able to.

Yet the demand for steaks and burgers never went away. As such, consumers have been paying an exorbitant amount for their beef. Now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the mix, there’s no telling just how high beef prices could rise in 2022.