MILFORD, Ohio — Just as grilling season kicks into high gear, beef prices are shooting up again.
And if you're planning to buy steaks, prepare yourself to pay more.
At Lehr's Prime Market in Milford, which has been selling premium cuts of beef, chicken and pork for 60 years, customers like Bruce Pennington are seeing the cost of their summer barbecue going up, again.
"Steaks and roasts," Pennington said. "That's just crazy!"
Owner Allison Homan is trying not to pass every supplier hike on to her customers.
"We are doing our best to keep our margins as low as we possibly can," she said, "but at some point there are certain margins we have to make to stay in business."
The latest issue they are dealing with: a suspected Russian hack that temporarily paused production at one of the world's biggest beef producers, JBS.
That has caused shortages throughout the supply chain in the past two weeks, on top of year-long scarcity due to labor shortages at US processing plants.
Homan says Lehr's gets their beef from local farms, but those prices are up, too, due to tight supplies.
Purchasing manager JT Homan, Allison's son, has been forced to raise the price of tenderloin filets (the priciest cut of beef) to $28 a pound, the highest he has ever seen.
"Our suppliers this spring have raised it $9 a pound for tenderloin. That's our cost," he said.
Other cuts of beef are up as well.
"Ribeyes, those were raised $5 a pound. Strips are up $4 a pound," he said.
What you can do about rising prices
So what's a consumer supposed to do?
The experts at Lehr's Prime Market say the easiest thing is to buy a cheaper cut of beef, such as sirloin or flank steak, and then marinate it well.
Or you can buy a less popular cut of beef, where prices haven't gone up so much.
"Our Wagyu options haven't been raised at all," JT Homan said, "and I think that's because they are not commodity items. Not everyone uses them the same way."
Allison Homan wishes she could predict lower prices this fall but tells customers she can't guarantee it.
"Everyone is hopeful things will even out or even come back down a bit," she said, "but no one really knows what the future holds."
Butcher shops like Lehr's are hoping their customers understand that they are not profiting from this price surge and are feeling the pinch as much as shoppers are.
As always, don't waste your money.
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