Beef prices up 17% in Canada

A U.S. drought last year and a shortage of pork today have increased the demand for — and cost of — beef.

One restaurant owner calls beef 'a luxury item'

The average price of beef is 17 per cent higher than last year but some cuts, such as brisket, have risen by 65 per cent. (CBC News)

Barbecue season is more costly this summer than it was a year ago.

The cost of beef is up 17 per cent.

A U.S. drought last year and a shortage of pork today have increased the demand for — and cost of — beef.

The average price of beef is 17 per cent higher than last year but some cuts, such as brisket, have risen by 65 per cent.

Windsor, Ont., butcher Ted Farron says there is a great demand for cattle at the moment.

“Pork prices are so high, more people are buying beef and chicken causing those prices to be higher,” Farron said. "Good quality beef is really, really in demand and it's in short supply.”

Farron's pork supplier is so short on hogs, he couldn't fill the butcher's order.

“That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me in 30 years.”

Brian Hyland, who sits on the Essex County Federation of Agriculture, is a grain farmer who raises about 40 head of cattle each year outside Windsor, Ont.

He says today’s beef prices are the highest he’s seen in 30-plus years of farming.

Hyland figures it will be a year plus before prices begin to fall.

He says even “cull cows,” old dairy cattle for instance, are fetching high prices.

Hyland says cull cows that usually sell for $1 per kilogram are now selling for $2 or more per kilogram.

The owner of Saslove's Meat Market in Ottawa said suppliers have been raising the price bit by bit since February, after warnings from economists and industry experts.

Owner John Diener said he kept prices steady for months but his shop was barely breaking even and was losing money some weeks.

Diener recently decided to raise beef prices more than ever before — 20 per cent for some cuts compared to last year.

"We're not the kind of business that lets our prices fluctuate week to week," Diener said. "So if things go up a little bit one week we keep the prices the same, if they go down a few cents the next week, we leave things the same. It all kind of averages out, but once we got into late May, early June, we saw some major increases in price."

Ryan Odette, owns two restaurants in Windsor. He says he’s experienced three prices increases this year.

“Meat’s become a luxury item,” Odette said.

He’s started a loyalty program to help customers deal with the rising costs.

“Our sales have remained pretty much the same,” Odette said. “We still want to be a value restaurant. We offer what we believe is fair value and charge accordingly.”

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