Barbecue season is on, but expect to pay more for that steak

Store owners and beef producers are both predicting further price climbs this barbecue season.

'This is nothing yet. Expect more increases to come as summer goes on.'

Store owner Munther Zeid is expecting to see further price increases of 10 to 20 per cent on prime cuts of beef this summer. (Jim Cole/Canadian Press)

As Canadians pull out their barbecues this summer, they'll be noticing higher prices in the checkout for beef. 

"Beef prices have been on the rise for quite a while now, the largest increases have happened in the last year or so," said Munther Zeid, owner of a number of grocery stores in Winnipeg. 

Prices of ground beef have jumped about $2.00 per kilogram over last summer and the increase is even more with prime cuts of beef, Zeid said. 

"This is nothing yet. Expect more increases to come as summer goes on. When that peak is going to happen, no one really knows yet," Zeid said Tuesday. 

Global shortage 

The cost increase is due to a global shortage of product and a lagging catchup in return to producers, Melinda German, general manager of Manitoba Beef Producers, told CBC's Radio Noon.

"The beef industry over the last decade has really struggled in terms of the value that they receive back from their product, so we did see a price correction. But coupled with that, we have seen an increase based on demand and supply," German said. 

Canada is still feeling the effects from the 2003 discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, which resulted in Canadian beef exports being blocked by many countries. 

"It's been a very challenging decade for them," she said. 

It will get worse before it gets better

There is overwhelming optimism in the industry, German said. She predicts a coming expansion of the Canadian beef industry, whether that means farmers expanding their current businesses or new players entering the industry altogether. With expansion, lower prices will come. 

In the meantime, store owners like Zeid are preparing for a further 10 to 20 per cent price increase for prime cuts of beef. 

"We have families just like everybody else, we know what it costs to keep a family going day-to-day, so we're watching that dollar."


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