If you’re planning to buy some beef to throw on the grill over the next few weeks, expect to pay up to three times more than you did just a couple of years ago, when our domestic supply was plentiful due to a historic cattle selloff. Since 2021, ranchers have been coping with drought and record feed prices, which forced many of them to send their animals for slaughter earlier than usual. And while that led to a higher supply and steadier prices back then, now it is resulting in falling production, empty shelves, and a painful spike in prices at grocery stores.
According to industry sources familiar with the matter, we’re about to see the worst of meat shortages, and costs are about to explode for US consumers, who may have to trade their traditional steaks for cheaper alternatives for the rest of the year and into 2024.
Our domestic beef cow herd is currently at its smallest size since 1962. And now ranchers who fatten cattle have finally gained leverage in sales negotiations over the meatpackers that dominate the market. The US Department of Agriculture reports that tightening cattle supplies are expected to cause a significant year-over-year decrease in beef production, the first decline since 2015.
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