The Price of Steak is Going Down — Here’s Why

meat price hike during coronavirus pandemic
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Planning a Labor Day BBQ? You may want to switch things up with some steak instead of the traditional burgers and hotdogs — you might just save a few dollars.

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The price of raw steak fell 1.5% in July on an annualized basis and fell one percentage point from June, data from the Labor Department shows. The drop in price appears to be the result of a change in consumer behavior. Because inflation has pushed the price of beef and other foods so high, shoppers have learned to live without steak — particularly the more expensive cuts such as rib-eye and striploin. As a result, these cuts are now seeing significant price drops in response to lower demand and a return of processing plant staff, per The Wall Street Journal.

According to Fox News, in an earnings call earlier this month, Donnie King, CEO of Tyson Foods — one of the world’s largest producers of beef, chicken and pork — said that though “consumer demand for protein remains relatively steady,” shoppers are moving away from premium cuts of beef and pork to more cost-efficient meats like chicken.

Further, consumers are still buying ground beef which, though cheaper than steak, is still soaring in cost — up 9.7% from a year ago. Prices are expected to rise further as farmers sell off and liquidate cattle herds in response to the severe drought afflicting much of the country.

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The most recent cattle report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the total cattle inventory has fallen 2% since July 2021, and stock could drop further as the drought persists.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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