Business
3:02 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Record Beef Prices May Lead Grillers To Cheaper Cuts Of Meat

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 12:57 pm

According to federal government figures, beef prices are at their highest levels in almost 30 years.

The average price of choice-grade beef in February was $5.28. Numbers aren't out yet for March or April, but they'll be high as well.

"We're in record territory actually," says David Anderson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University. He says the biggest reason for these high prices is drought.

"Texas is our biggest cattle state, and 2011 was the driest year on record. And we continue in drought," Anderson says.

That drought, all over the Southwest, leads to higher feed prices, which means cattle ranchers raise fewer cows. Anderson says this decrease in supply is matched by an increase in demand from emerging economies, like China.

"One of the things that happens that we see in people everywhere: When their incomes go up the first thing they do is they upgrade their diets," says Anderson. "And so that usually means eating more meat."

It all adds up to a smaller supply, higher global demand and higher prices.

So, as grilling season starts, beef for barbecueing is going to be expensive. But Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue editor for Texas Monthly, says there are some cheaper beef cuts that will still taste good, with a little more effort.

He recommends beef chuck short ribs, beef back ribs and shoulder clod, a less tender shoulder cut.

But, Vaughn says, you've got to cook those cuts a little differently: "Go low and slow."

That means low temperature and long cooking times: maybe up to eight hours on the grill.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news begins with an update on the price of beef.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Beef prices are now at their highest levels in almost 30 years. That's according to the latest federal government figures.

NPR's Sam Sanders reports that there are factors at play both in the United States and abroad.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: Five dollars and twenty-eight cents a pound. That was the average price of choice grade beef in February. Numbers aren't out yet for March or April, but they'll be high as well.

DAVID ANDERSON: We're in record territory, actually.

SANDERS: David Anderson is a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University. He says the biggest reason for these high prices is drought.

ANDERSON: Texas is our biggest cattle state and 2011 was the driest year on record. And we continue in drought.

SANDERS: That drought, all over the Southwest, leads to higher feed prices, which means cattle ranchers raise fewer cows. Anderson says that decrease in supply is matched by an increase in demand from emerging economies like China.

ANDERSON: One of the things that that happens that we see in people everywhere, when their incomes go up the first thing they do is they upgrade their diets. And so that usually means eating more meat.

SANDERS: Smaller supply, higher global demand, higher prices.

So, as grilling season starts, beef for barbequing is going to be expensive. Daniel Vaughn is a barbeque editor for Texas Monthly magazine. He says, there are some cheaper beef cuts that will still taste good.

DANIEL VAUGHN: Beef chuck short ribs, beef back ribs and then shoulder clod.

SANDERS: But, Vaughn says, you've got to cook those cuts a little differently.

VAUGHN: Go low and slow.

SANDERS: Low temperature. Long cook times. Vaughn says maybe up to eight hours on the grill.

Sam Sanders, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.