Beef prices up 22 per cent in the last year

WATCH: Meat eaters may get sticker shock as they head to the butcher shop this week. As Sean O’Shea reports, the lower dollar and higher demand means higher prices for beef and pork.

TORONTO–Peter Sanagan’s butcher shop in Kensington Market is bustling on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. After a long, cold winter customers can’t wait to start barbequing meat on the grill.

“The price ultimately doesn’t matter in the sense I know I want the quality, I want the taste, so I’m going to get it regardless,” said one of Sanagan’s regulars entering the store.

The price of beef is up significantly in the last year, which may come as a surprise to those who haven’t paid attention to commodity prices.

“You’re looking at 18 to 22 per cent increases depending on cuts,” said Sylvain Charlebois, professor in the college of business at the University of Guelph, speaking from Innsbruck, Austria.

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Droughts in the U.S. prompted some cattle owners to thin their herds; at the same time, consumer demand for beef is strong.

“Demand is there, for beef, supply isn’t,” said Sanagan. In the past, consumers could seek out lower-priced cuts like skirt steak, hangar steak and flank steak. But Sanagan says producers have significantly raised the prices of those cuts, too.

“It bums me out…those cuts are now $10 to $12 a pound when they used to be $3 a pound,” Sanagan said.

Grillers looking for a protein fix this summer can’t get a deal on pork. Prices on many cuts are up 25 per cent in the last year. Charlebois says he expects the price increases to level off by June.

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Consumers will find better prices on sausages and chicken. Charlebois says bargain-hunters may have to seek out vegetable proteins and fish.

Sanagan says he held the line on the price of many beef cuts but had to raise prices two months ago because he was “losing money.”

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