How to save money as beef prices spike

INDIANAPOLIS - Beef prices are up and consumer analysts say they'll be going up even higher.

The drought during the summer of 2012 caused a shortage of grain. With less grain to feed cows, the U.S. cattle herd hit a 63-year low.

Joe Moore, executive vice president of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association said the price spike is a case of supply and demand.

"The USDA came out this week and said we've hit an all-time high on the average price of beef, which is $5.04 a pound.  That is about a 5 percent increase over last year and about 11 percent over the year before that," Moore said.

Leaner cuts are even higher and according to USDA projections, beef prices will continue to rise this year another 6 to 8 percent overall and up an extra 10 to 15 percent for ground beef.

Moore says you can save money by looking for sales, then freezing ground beef until spring, when most beef-lovers fire up their grills.

"Grocery stores run an ad for a week at a time. They put some really good prices on some of these cuts and hamburger. That's the time to stock up," Moore said.

Stocking up is a good idea because prices aren't expected to fall anytime soon.

"I always tell people, you know the poultry industry, it only takes 45 days to grow a chicken. With beef cattle, (it) takes a calf that's born this spring…wouldn't be ready for market until 18 to 24 months after that. So it takes a long time," Moore said.

The IBCA says the cattle herd won't be back to normal until 2016 or 2017.
 

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