Beef is going down because producers have figured a work-around to get more product to stores while restaurant business remains limited, and the meat-packing plants that had become Covid hot-houses have been largely made safe, getting the wheels turning efficiently again.
Dr. David Anderson, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension economist, College Station, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture retail market report shows prices on beef and other meats are moving downward.
Retail choice beef of all cuts – steaks to ground chuck – averaged $6.84 per pound in July compared to $7.56 per pound in June, he said. However, prices are still higher than this time last year when choice beef averaged $6.07 per pound.Retail prices for pork and chicken also slipped since June.
The wholesale price has returned to pre-pandemic levels, though retail remains higher. The shutdown of restaurants in March had brought most food-related-industry to a standstill. Mechanisms to get product to grocery stores, the packaging and distribution, just wasn't there. Supply has met demand.
“Restaurants are still not open or open at full capacity, so there is stronger demand at the grocery store for beef,” he said. “There is more costs to put products on shelves, packaging and demand for different cuts compared to restaurants, adjustments to how the stores operate, and stores don’t have an incentive to lower prices if the product is in high demand.”
Retail prices, Anderson states, go up quicker than they come down.