Drought and feed prices are hitting Canadian wallets at the dinner table, as the cost of beef is rising this spring.
North American cattle ranchers say they’ve been forced to cut the size of their herds because of dry weather in recent years, including in California, Texas and prairie states and provinces.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said earlier this week the price of a pound of fresh beef is the highest it’s been since the mid-1980s.
The department also said the number of beef cows in America is at its lowest level since 1951.
That, along with the price of importing beef for businesses that choose to do so, is to blame for rising prices at delicatessens and butcher shops across Canada.
Delicatessens raising sandwich prices
“It's a simple economic issue,” said Stanley Devine, owner of an Ottawa Dunn’s Famous Restaurant location.
“The demand for beef is still high, but the supply is low and that's why prices are going up.”
Devine said he’s raising the price of a small smoked meat sandwich by 50 cents and a large sandwich by a dollar in a few weeks.
Schwartz’s deli in Montreal is also raising its prices for a regular sandwich by a dollar this month.
The famous restaurant’s general manager told The Canadian Press they’ve never had to increase prices this much.
"We try to keep prices down, but as of April we're definitely going to have to raise our prices," said Frank Silva.
"I think a lot of customers will be upset, but they'll see that right across the board it will be higher — groceries will be higher, everything is going to be higher."
Costs up for farmers
Ottawa-area cattle farmer Dan O’Brien said he’s needing to buy cattle from other farmers to meet demand at the 60 restaurants he supplies.
He said he’s already increased his sale prices by eight per cent because it’s costing a lot more to buy a cow.
“A calf you could have got for $800 two years ago, today would cost you $1,400,” he said.
Many grocery stores have already started passing along this increase to customers.