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Soaring beef prices threaten summer BBQs

Cheap cuts of steak as much as $16 a pound
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Posted at 10:30 AM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 12:41:48-04

Looking for some steaks to throw on the grill for the weekend?

You may want to bring extra money; the pandemic is sending meat prices up sharply this month.

High prices are starting to impact consumers, as well as local restaurants and anyone who cooks meat for their business.

The grill was sizzling at We Smokin on Montgomery Road in Norwood.

Tyrique Ramsey and his family have served the community from his food truck for years, but he was forced to raise prices last week as pork costs skyrocketed.

"We used to be able to get it for $1.99 a pound, but now we are almost paying $3.99 a pound," Ramsey said.

While chicken and ground beef prices are higher, the worst is steak, where prices have gone up almost 50% this year on some cuts.

$22 for a package of steak

At Walmart, basic strip steaks were $12 a pound, which came to $22 dollars for a package of two small, shrink-wrapped steaks.

One of the cheapest cuts of meat, chuck roast, was $8 a pound, almost double from a year ago.

Ground beef was in the $5 (fatty) to $8 (lean) a pound range as well, a far cry from the normal summertime $3 a pound in many supermarkets.

Shopper Jackie Thompson says she can't afford it anymore.

"I think it's ridiculous, it is totally ridiculous," she said. "$15 dollars for a steak!"

At Kroger, bone-in ribeye was at $15 dollars a pound, bringing the total to $21 dollars for one steak.

Normally top-dollar filet mignon was nowhere to be found, which was probably a good thing.

The Hutchinson family, who were loading up their car with groceries, wonder if short supplies to blame.

"It's still pretty thin in the meat aisle, for sure." they said.

Government blames plant shutdowns and slowdowns

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says processing plant shutdowns continue to cause shortages.

Even once those plants reopen, many are on a limited schedule with fewer workers.

The Labor report says beef prices rose 11% in May.

The average retail price of beef roast rose a whopping 19% during the month.

Also up: Chicken, tomatoes and even ice cream, the government says.

Restaurants forced to raise prices

Which means back at We Smokin, Ramsey has to explain why his price board has gone up in recent days, just as many restaurants are raising their menu prices.

"I just had to go up a few more dollars," he said. "But a lot of the customers, they kind of understand, we explain it to them."

Kroger spokeswoman Erin Rolfes told us in statement that the grocery store is working to keep prices as low as possible, saying they are now "purchasing from a diverse network of suppliers."

As always, don't waste your money.

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