Beef price spike leaves meat-lovers looking for alternatives

Barbeque kings and queens may want to turn down the grill, because beef prices are up again.

Prices nearly double in four years

The $1.99 hamburger may be a thing of the past. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Barbeque kings and queens may want to turn down the grill, because beef prices are up again.

Beef prices have almost doubled in the last four years, organic beef farmer and co-founder of Valens farm in Elgin, Que., Marcus Ritter, told CBC's Daybreak.

According to Statistics Canada the price of round steak has gone from $6 to $18 since 2011.

While the price may go down if the Canadian dollar increases, "the levels where you're going to see $1.99 hamburgers are pretty well over," said Ritter.

Meat prices going up, from the farm to the table

Ritter said a cow that once cost $600 to $700 could now be anywhere from $2,700 to $3,000.

"It's unbelievable — I never thought I'd have income like that from a beef farm," said Ritter.

Ritter said he believed high prices were linked to greater purchasing power from the south, because of the stronger American dollar as well as farmers who took early retirement.

"It's fun on one side," he said.

"But we also do the direct marketing of our beef to the end users."

Ditching summer steaks

The beef price spike has not appeared to change the overall consumption of meat.

Instead, Costa Moumouris, a butcher and manager at PA Supermarket on Parc Avenue, explained people are simply buying different cuts of beef or alternatives. 

"Everything is stable, everything balances out. Instead of buying beef, they'll buy pork, they'll buy chicken, there's fish," he said. 

Moumouris said that centre cuts — steak, beef tenderloin, filet mignon — are more desirable during the summer.

When people complained of how expensive beef was, Moumouris said he explained that he had no control over the prices and would recommend a different cut of meat instead.

According to Moumouris, a steak cost approximately $55 a kilogram last year. Today it costs $70 to $80 a kilogram.


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