The drought sent grain prices soaring, which resulted in many farmers sending their cattle to slaughter much sooner than usual, instead of paying the exorbitant grain prices. This early to slaughter move late this summer is now resulting in fewer cattle available to send to market now. The result: meat prices will soar. It's starting already. NyPo reports:
The Midwest drought is putting a chill on the grill.
Meat prices are “through the roof,” said William Degel, owner of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouses in Midtown and Queens. “It’s at an all-time high.”
He says he’s been forced to serve smaller portions and raise prices — the porterhouse for two increased by $5 to $94 and the filet mignon by $2 to $35 for the 10-ounce and $45 for the 16-ounce.
“Even chopped meat has gone up dollars a pound,” Degel said.
The drought, the worst in at least 25 years, is affecting 80 percent of agricultural land, the US Department of Agriculture says. Midwestern farmers were hit hard by acres of shriveled corn and soybean crops over the summer.
Beef was already in short supply — a victim of earlier droughts and rises in the costs of fuel and feed. During this year’s drought, ranchers reluctant to buy expensive grain feed brought young — and thin — cattle to market early, which will spur another shortage and could threaten fatter cuts of beef.
“We have a fundamental disconnect between supply and demand,” said Richard Volpe, an economist with the Agriculture Department. “Prices are really high, and they’re only going higher.”
At the famed Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn, the New York strip is already up 11 percent, to $46.95, said owner Amy Rubenstein.
But nearly all restaurants are bracing for the worst.
Peter Glazier, owner of Michael Jordan’s Steak House, said meat purveyors are warning of increases of up to 20 percent in the coming year.
He is considering adding different choices of meat, such as sliced steak.
“You don’t have to go prime everywhere,” Glazier said.
Don’t expect any relief at the supermarket, where prices will pinch even harder.
“If you look at supermarket prices,” Volpe said, “it’s pretty clear that we’ve already seen some of the preliminary impacts of the drought. We’ve seen price hikes for things like beef, pork, poultry, eggs, dairy and other meats.”
The increases will continue by an expected 3 to 4 percent next year and will show up in the cost of packaged and processed foods — cereals and corn flour, for example — in 10 months to a year.