Shoppers looking for steak or hamburger at their local supermarkets are experiencing sticker shock.
Beef prices are surging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that a pound of beef now costs an average of $5.04, up 6% from last year. That’s on top of the 5% rise in beef prices last year compared to 2012, the Star-Telegram notes.
The outlook for beef prices this year isn’t any better. One industry analyst expects beef prices to climb between 6% and 8% in 2014. He estimates a similar rise next year, too.
Soaring beef prices are linked to a persistent drought that caused the U.S. cattle herd to shrink to numbers not seen since the 1950s. A cold winter has also hit cattle ranchers hard, helping to drive prices higher.
Last year, beef production in the U.S. fell to a 21-year low under the strain of the drought and rising feed prices.
Industry experts say that it will take at least three years for the U.S. cattle herd to regain enough size to send beef prices lower.