American Budgets Slaughtered By High Meat Prices
September marked a rise in the cost of almost everything Americans purchase for their daily lives. According to Marketwatch, September realized a 0.2 percent rise in the overall cost of consumer goods. This brings the tally up to just over 1 percent for the entire year.
However, there is one area where the rising cost has been exponential compared to others. This area is not the automotive sector, the construction materials sector, or even the alcohol sector. The one area that Americans are paying more is the meat aisle in the grocery store.
Food Costs Rising Fast
The cost of food has risen much faster than any other consumer good this year. Overall, the cost of food has risen by 1.4 percent. Meat has more than doubled that rise, escalating by 2.9 percent.
The problem with meat costs stems back to the droughts of 2011 and 2012, according to Lewis Mandell. He is the professor emeritus of finance at SUNY Buffalo and also the author of “What To Do When I Get Stupid.” He says the droughts caused ranchers to sell off their cattle at near fire sale prices, driving the cost of beef lower.
However, as the economy and the ranches recovered from the drought, consumers have boosted demand for the beef and now the supply is not as plentiful as before. This has helped force the prices upwards. Prices have gone so high in fact, that some slaughter-ready cattle brought an all-time high price of $132 per hundredweight.
Poultry & Pork Prices Climbing
According to IbisWorld analyst Jeffery Cohen, red meat is not the only pricey food choice these days. Poultry and pork prices are also on the rise, and it stems back to the same drought. Corn is one of the main ingredients in almost all animal feed. Since the droughts corn prices have risen, which makes it more expensive to feed pigs and chickens. Cohen says “Increasing corn prices are passed on to livestock farmers in the form of higher feed prices because corn is a key ingredient for cattle, swine, and chicken feeds.”
Vegetarians Suffering Too
Unfortunately the answer to saving money is not to stop eating meat. The produce aisle is no more friendly than the meat aisle these days and even vegetarians are feeling the crunch of higher food costs. Fruits and vegetables have been the victim of a 3 percent price hike this year, and even bakery products and cereals have fallen prey to a 1.6 percent increase.
So, it appears that no matter what we choose to eat, the cost crunch is affecting all of us. The one area where there was some release is the nonalcoholic beverages, which are actually down 1.8 percent from last year. Also, dairy products have only seen an increase of 0.8 percent.
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