From the Ground Up: Some Beef Cuts Could Get Scarce

Published: May. 7, 2020 at 8:40 AM CDT
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When you couple the slowdown in beef processing caused by the Coronavirus with the impact it’s having on the economy, markets are bound to react with results trickling down to consumers. Pete Scarmardo is a rancher and cattle buyer.

“I don’t think we’ll have empty shelves. I think it’ll just not be, you may go to the grocery store and want to buy some products that, some cuts of beef that may not be there. I think that ground beef will be pretty readily available at most places, but I think you could have some issues with some of the other cuts.”

David Anderson is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Economist and says that the market is reacting to the current environment.

“If we were looking at wholesale meat prices, you can see exactly what has happened in the market. Two things, the shift from restaurants to grocery stores because when we go out, we get steaks. We also see very clearly thinking in grocery stores about stocking stuff that sells better in recession. So, if we look at wholesale beef prices for ribeyes, ribeyes have collapsed. They’ve gone from eight dollars and change per pound to five dollars and change just in the last six weeks. But chuck, for instance, has skyrocketed in value from two dollars and change to about four dollars per pound at wholesale.”

And what do we get from the chuck?

“Well we think about a roast, but we grind a lot of chucks for ground beef. You pull the flat iron steak out which is a big food service item at restaurants, but it’s also one of those value-priced steaks, so you have this big change happening with sharply declining middle meat prices, the steaks, the high-value stuff and then we get this skyrocketing value of what we call the end meats, the ends of the carcass. The chuck and the round have skyrocketed in value.”

So, if you’ve already put some of you’re favorites in your freezer, enjoy them now if you don’t see those cuts when you’re shopping.