National beef cattle loss increases Cincinnati beef prices

Recently, there have been many articles and news segments about the loss of beef cattle in the United States and an increase in the price of beef because of it.  There are pretty specific reasons why America lost beef cattle and it has affected citizens in Cincinnati, but some relief is available for consumers.

Why did U.S. lose beef cattle?

USA Today got America talking about the beef cattle loss.  Ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma and other states had a lack of grass and water to feed their cattle because of a drought. The crisis added to a long-term trend of ranchers thinning their herds because of the soaring price of corn, which is the primary food source of beef cattle.

With the loss of beef cattle, not only have beef prices increased, so have the prices of poultry, pork, and seafood.

How did it affect Cincinnati?

Locally, Meijer, Remke/Biggs, and Kroger have had to deal with the increase in beef prices as well. Don Troescher, meat manager of the Woodlawn, Ohio, Kroger store, said, “We have had lower retail sales because of this issue.  We have to mark down a lot of beef products, especially steaks.”  This seems to be the trend going on across America, not just in Cincinnati.  Kroger is trying to make the customers happy with affordable “meat upgrades, where we add seasoning to some of the cuts,” Troescher said.

Is there any kind of relief?

If “beef is what’s for dinner,” then Troescher suggests buying value packs, value cuts (English roast, sirloins, and Chuck), and ground beef are the best choices for the price.  Monetary relief will only come in the form of eating less beef.  While going completely vegetarian/vegan may be well above what most consumers are willing to do, there are some healthy alternatives.

MSN Money offers these helpful hints to cut back the buying of beef.

  • Try having “Meatless Mondays.”
  • Find inspiration from meat dishes from other countries, where meat intake is less.
  • Use meat as a flavor additive.
  • Decrease the size of meat portions. Go for a 6-ounce steak instead of a larger size.  Create healthier side dishes to fill up on.
  • Look for vegetarian recipes and find hearty ones that work.
  • Use half as much meat in recipes and use filler such as beans in chili to get more protein.

Highland Beef Cattle Steer used for some of Cincinnati's beef intake (photo by Christina M. Thompson 2010).

Troescher, who has worked in the Meat Department at Kroger for 35 years, said, “I have never seen a trend like this before!  I expect the meat prices to keep rising in our country.”

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