SAN ANTONIO – Shoppers can expect to pay more for burgers, steaks and brisket as meat prices are beefing up.
The bottleneck caused by packing plant closures and slowdowns has constrained the amount of meat available to retailers, and that’s driven up prices. It also seems to be driving increased consumer demand.
“The traffic has been almost double, triple what we’ve been used to on a given weekday,” said Carter Ray, co-owner of Wiatrek’s Meat Market.
Ray runs the market on Blanco Road, a recent addition to the longtime family business based in Poth.
Ray said they have plenty of beef because they buy about half of their product from ranchers in Wilson and Karnes counties and process it themselves. It’s the other half that he gets from outside suppliers that is costing him about 30% to 40% more, with prices still rising. And he’s had to pass some of that along to customers.
“I’ve already changed pricing twice this week just to stay on top of it,” he said. “It’s a bummer.”
The lean ground beef he was selling for $3.99 per lb. is now up to $5.29. And the choice T-bones jumped from $10.99 to $14.79 in two months’ time.
If you’re looking to smoke a brisket in a few weeks, prepare to pay for it. Ray says looking at the future’s market, he’s been quoted $6.50 to $7.50 per pound for his cost, which he called “crazy” considering he paid $3.50 per pound eight weeks ago.
“So, in briskets, especially going into Memorial Day weekend and that higher demand anyway, brisket is 80% to 90% higher than eight weeks ago,” Ray said.
Based on talks with suppliers, Ray said he is hopeful that as packing plants reopen, even on a smaller scale, the industry will see some stability in three to four weeks.
“Fingers crossed,” he added.