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Higher meat prices in store for consumers

From CBC News

Experts say high meat prices are likely going to get worse before they get better. Rising meat prices in the U.S. are already beginning to affect American consumers. According to the Wall Street Journal, even the rich are starting to change their meat buying habits.

High meat prices are essentially a question of supply and demand. The global appetite for meat continues to grow as the middle class in developing countries grows richer. At the same time, high feed costs in the past several years and persistent drought in the U.S. have driven farmers to cull herds in traditional cattle country, including Texas.

“We now have a situation where the size of the cattle herd across both the U.S. and Canada is at its lowest level since about 1973,” says Scotiabank’s senior commodities expert and vice-president of economics, Patricia Mohr.

Part of the reason for rising pork costs is actually the high price of cattle, as shoppers substitute pork and chicken for pricier beef.

Driven up to $8 a bushel last year, corn has come down with a crash because farmers around the world planted more acreage to take advantage of record prices. That means producers are gearing up to expand their herds.

Higher production should bring meat prices down eventually, providing consumers with some relief. But bringing livestock herds back to traditional levels will take years. And Grier says it will require producers to hold back breeding cows from the slaughterhouse, forcing meat prices even higher before they begin to moderate.

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