Holy cow! The average American eats almost 200 pounds of meat every year, and one cow eats around 50 times that in corn, hay, and grass. Unfortunately for the cows, this summer one of the worst droughts in the decade scorched the Midwestern United States. Crop yields are dangerously low, which means farmers are spending more to feed their livestock. That means that next year, your steak burger’s price is going to increase by 5-7%.
“We saw tri-tip at it’s all time high this year in the last 30 years,” said Cubby James, owner and manager of Cubby’s Italian Beef in Provo.
Cubby’s opened their doors just 3 months ago, and they’ve already seen a change in the meat market. Cubby’s buys meat from regional farmers, but because some of those farmers source their grain from the Midwest, bringing home the bacon isn’t going to be cheap.
“Prices have skyrocketed and it’s hard to still get certified Angus beef, but we still want to be able to serve our customers the same quality that we did in the beginning,” said James, “and we don’t want to raise our prices, so we’re just kind of taking it on our end.”
Cubby James says his meat prices have gone up as much as 25% already, but don’t have a cow just yet. Another local restaurant found a way around the steep prices.
Communal restaurant in downtown Provo also buys their meat locally but they literally buy a pig or cow from farmers in Springville and get it butchered in town themselves.
“We spend an entire day with all of our staff. We come in, butcher it ourselves, and create special pork preparations,” said Chris Neidiger, general manager of Communal.
Neidiger said because they buy completely Utah fed and bred cows and pigs, their meat prices won’t go up as much as others next year.
“I’m really not too worried. If Provo or the state of Utah were to have an issue with product or with grain or with other products we provide, then we would be impacted,” he said.
It will take a full year for herds to replenish through breeding, and for crops to recover. Assuming next summer won’t bring another drought, market watchers say prices should return to normal by next fall.
So what does this mean for you? Expect to pay a few more dollars when buying meat from the shelf at a grocery store, but it’s up to the restaurants to decide if they’ll have to raise their prices to stay in business.