Price of red meat goes up - East Valley Tribune: Capitol Media Services

Price of red meat goes up

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Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 9:15 am

If you want red meat in your diet, be prepared to pay more.

The latest survey done by the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation shows the cost of a typical market basket of items hit $52.64 in the quarter just ended. That's up just slightly from the prior quarter.

But that figure is close to 10 percent higher than the same time a year earlier, and if you want to know why, you need look no further than the meat counter.

Consider: Last year you could buy a pound of ground chuck for $3.52. This year it costs 15 percent more.

And that $5.69-a-pound sirloin tip roast available last year now is running $6.45.

It's not just the beef that is ringing up higher. Deli ham spiked by 90 cents a pound in the last year, up to $4.59. And even boneless chicken breasts are much dearer, hitting $4.41 a pound.

Julie Murphree, the organization's spokeswoman, said all those changes are related to beef and, more specifically, to the fact there's less of it to go around.

“Certain regions of the country were experiencing drought,” she said, making feed more expensive. “They had to pull back on their herds.”

Murphree said it's hard for ranchers to react to the market and the higher prices now available. She said that's because it takes about two years to bring a calf to market. By contrast, chickens mature to the size for eating in a fraction of the time. So why, then, has the price of chicken gone through the roof?

Murphree said that probably comes down to the question of supply and demand: As the price for beef goes up, shoppers turn to other sources of protein.

Not everything has gone up in the past year.

Eggs are more expensive, as is cheese, but it's now cheaper to buy milk.

The quarterly survey is based on what federation shoppers found at markets around the state. These prices do not reflect use of coupons or the affinity cards that many supermarket chains provide which give holders additional discounts.

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