HAYSVILLE, Kansas – As the owner of a meat delivery service, Chris Kiefer has seen what effect higher meat prices have had on consumers.
“It just seems like they keep going up,” Kiefer, the owner of EZ Choice Meats in Haysville, said. “[It] started with the beef, then the pork went up, now the chicken’s going up.”
Kiefer’s suppliers have substantially raised the prices she buys the meat, but rather than pass it on the increases entirely to consumers, her company has absorbed a portion of the cost to keep customers happy.
“They know it’s going up, and they appreciate the fact that we haven’t gone up as much as overall price per pound as the stores have,” she said.
The latest USDA data was released for the month of May, showing that choice beef hit an all-time retail high of $5.91 a pound, up 11 percent over the last year. Pork is up 9.5 percent from the same time last year.
But demand for meat is still sky high, according to John Jenkinson of The Ag Network, and that has an impact on prices.
“A lot of it is going to depend on the consumer,” he said. “If the consumer feels so inclined to continue to buy and pay the high prices for beef, we’ll continue to see the high prices.”
While the high beef prices predominantly stem from reduced supplies as a result of the drought, a virus that killed off millions of hogs is also impacting the supply of pork. The summer months typically see the highest demand for grilling meats.
“Either the consumer backs off and we see an increase in supply, or we see an increase in supply because we finally catch up with the gap that the drought and the PED virus has left us with,” Jenkinson said.