Hope in sight
for high beef prices
Beef prices at food stores remain high, but Carlsons’ Grocery co-owner Greg Carlson expects prices to drop soon, even if just slightly.
“It looks to me like prices are coming back down a little at a time,” he said. “We hope so.”
Dale’s Supermarket and Carlsons’ have managed to keep prices consistent for a couple weeks, with ground beef hovering around $7.79 a pound, ground chuck beef near $7.99 a pound, and ground round near $8.49 a pound.
“We’ve been trying to maintain the same pennies profit per pound that it was at like $2.99,” Dale’s owner Dale Franz said. “We’ll make the same profit ... We’re just trying to hold the line on that.”
The stores have had to change their basis for marking up items, avoiding percentage-based markups they usually use.
“We can’t mark it up very high or no one’s going to buy it,” Carlson said. “We mark it up as minimally as we can. It’s tough on both sides.”
Dale’s was able to keep prices from rising too far at first by ordering extra meat before shortages set in, but that extra supply quickly ran out.
“We’ve been just ordering anything and everything we possibly can and hoping we get it,” Franz said. “We’re feeling pretty blessed, though, because we’re pretty well keeping the case full.”
Carlson was especially worried about how little supply he had last week, when he had 80 pounds of beef to last from May 18 through May 21.
“I think they’ve shut down so many plants that it’s hard to get it,” he said.
According to cattle farmer Donnie Hett, one reason for the slowdown is that a few large beef packers control most of the market.
“They’re the ones who are controlling all of that,” he said. “That’s all it is.”
Hett’s biggest worry is that slowdowns in processing because of COVID-19 will create a backlog.
“Right now I don’t have anything ready to sell, so it doesn’t concern me too much,” he said. “I will further down the road, and with what they’re doing it’s pushing everything back. I’m looking down the road and I don’t think it’ll be very good.”
Last modified May 28, 2020