The recent siege of freezing weather across the Midwest and Northeast will soon send beef prices soaring.
Chilly temperatures and harsh weather in farming states has taken a toll on the size of the nation’s cattle population. Ranchers now have the lowest number of cattle in 60 years. One food supplier says that wholesale beef prices have jumped between 15% and 20% over the last few weeks, ABC27.com notes.
Icy roads and snowstorms in recent weeks slowed beef deliveries to processing plants, reducing the supply of beef available to ship to stores. Consumers will see the cost of those delays in rising beef prices over the coming weeks.
Droughts over the past three years have hit cattle producers even as feed prices have climbed sharply. Those conditions have contributed to the shrinking U.S. cattle herd, pushing up beef prices even before the recent bad weather.
This year, U.S. beef production is expected to decline by 5.4% to 24.32 billion pounds, Bloomberg notes. That will mark the lowest beef output in two decades and is expected to put further pressure on beef prices.
Rising feed prices and a shrinking U.S. cattle herd has sent cattle futures up 13% since June. Last week, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange saw cattle futures hit a record high, a harbinger of even higher beef prices in the near future.
The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of commercial beef.