Demand and Costs Rise for Best Cuts

US - AT $42, a nicely charred 16-ounce slab of prime boneless strip loin might not seem like much of a bargain now, but it could soon.
calendar icon 23 May 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
SHORT SUPPLY: Peter Luger Steak House has cut back on reservations.

Over the past two months or so the cost of producing beef and the demand for it have risen so much that prices are soaring and the supply of top quality beef has dropped. Customers at steakhouses and markets will see the effects in coming weeks if they haven’t already.

“Beef is going through the roof,” said Richard Romanoff, the president of Nebraskaland, a wholesaler in the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx. “And there’s not enough prime and top choice to satisfy the demand.”

The price of steers ready for slaughter jumped to 98 cents a pound last month from 83 cents a pound in April 2006, according to Urner Barry, a publisher of marketing reports. After slaughtering, transporting and butchering, a restaurant’s cost for a well-trimmed steak may be 30 percent higher, said Bob Mark, director of sales for Buckhead Beef Northeast, in South Plainfield, N.J., a division of Buckhead Beef, a wholesaler based in Atlanta.

The last time prices reached those levels was at the end of 2003, but they dropped sharply in early 2004. This time people in the meat business think the increase will be more persistent.

“The bottom line is that we have to assume that beef prices will not come down any time soon,” said Ephraim Leibtag, an economist who specializes in retail stores and restaurants for the Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture.

Source: The New York Times

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