Higher Beef Prices Hurt Local Consumers and Businesses - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Higher Beef Prices Hurt Local Consumers and Businesses

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It could be a tough summer for people looking to fire up the grill as beef prices have hit an all time high.

Local consumers and businesses are having to make sacrifices and cut back on the amount of beef they buy.

"It's cheaper to feed your family from the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant than it is to buy ground beef at the store," said Kathy St. John shopping for food at a local super market.

According to the USDA, the current U.S. cattle and calf heard is at its lowest level since 1952. The average price for a pound of ground beef just last month was $3.51 and $4.81 for steaks.

But not only are consumers suffering from the rising cost, local butcher shops are also struggling with these higher prices.

"It's been a bit of a problem, we have to watch our stock extremely close because of the price, we don't know if it's going to sell or not," said Tony Pauletto, owner of Tony's Quality Meats in Beckley.

Pauletto also said the rapid rise in beef prices is causing people to choose other options like chicken or pork.

According to USDA economists the steep prices are the result of last year's drought in the Midwest. The supply isn't meeting the demand.

Local restaurants like McBees Irish Pub in Beckley are also feeling the pinch and trying to create new ideas.

"We have come up with alternatives for our menu items trying to increase our other options although we are paying more for beef," said Jodie Cox, Manager of McBees Irish Pub.
But if the price continues to rise, the restaurants might be forced to increase their prices.

USDA economists don't expect the prices to go down for a while and they could stay high until the rest of the year.