Meat prices climbing around U.S.

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DENVER -- With the unofficial start of the grilling season just days away, grocers are getting ready, preparing meat for memorial day weekend. But this year, the meat... May cost you more.

According to the USDA, the price of wholesale beef hit an all-time high Friday of $201.68 per 100 pounds. This is bad news for outdoor cooks firing up the grill because local retailers say prices will go up.

Mike Shepler, a food buyer for Tony’s Market in Denver, says US cattle producers were hit hard by a drought in the plains and dry spell in the southwest. The lack of good pasture, and lack of water have driven up corn prices. Cattle ranchers are downsizing their herds, which is driving up prices.

The price on quality, high-end cuts of beef will go up the most. Buyers will see the highest price increases in cuts of meat like t-bones, new york sirloins, ribeyes and tenderloins.

And the higher prices will impact everyone – even if you don’t eat meat. Many grocers will have to offset the rising cost of beef by hiking prices on other items.

Shepler says, “We can raise those margins to soak up the margins that we`re losing here. But prices are going to go up somewhere.”

Meanwhile, menu prices are going up at restuarants, nationwide. Steven Janicek - general manager of Elway`s and the Ritz Carlton in downtown Denver - hasn`t raised menu prices, yet. For now, he`s trying other ways to avoid passing the price hike onto diners like negotiating with vendors and pushing harder to keep prices down.

But while many vendors nationwide are moving to lower-grade meats, sacrificing quality is not an option for Janicek, who says, “We`ll never do that. We cannot drop our standards, what we built a reputation upon for many, many decades.”



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