Expect to fork it over for red meat

Barbecue hosts are about to get stingy with pork chops and steak.

“The farm price, or the price that the grocers pay, has been rising dramatically this year,” for pork and cattle, said Kevin Grier, a senior market analyst with the George Morris Centre, an agriculture and food industry economic research organization in Guelph.

“The consumer price has been rising less dramatically but it’s also been increasing.”

One kilogram of sirloin steak averaged $20.12 last month, according to figures from Statistics Canada, up from $18.28 in January 2014.

It cost $17.96 in April 2013.

The same serving of pork chops reached $12.09 in the same time frame, up from $11.10 and $10.42.

The inflation rate in Canada was 2% last month.

Stephane Sauve owns the Glebe Meat Market and said he’s taking notice.

“Yes, we’re paying more,” said Sauve, adding it varies from 10% to 20% and “depends on the cut.”

That cost, he said, is being passed to customers.

“Naturally, we have to,” said Sauve.

“Basically, we’re working within the same mark-up.”

Costs are increasing across North America.

Grier cites a few reasons: drought in the U.S. driving cattle farmers out; government ethanol policy in Canada and the U.S. subsidizing corn going into ethanol, “as oppposed to being fed to livestock, and that resulted in a dramatic increase” in grain prices; the subsequent skyrocketing cost of producing livestock; a disease killing baby piglets this past winter.

“Therefore, there’s less pigs to slaughter,” he said.

Grier points out there’s no food safety or human health issue related to the virus.

So far, customers aren’t complaining about forking over more cash, said Sauve.

“It’s been a bit yo-yo,” he said, noting staff will wait a few weeks before changing prices.

“If the prices go down, we bring it down,” he said.

Still, Sauve said, “we are not, on average, more expensive than supermarkets.”

Pork chops are “high, right now,” Sauve said, but “bang for your buck, it’s still cheaper than beef.”

Chicken prices remain stable, but “chicken always goes up at this time of year, but it’s relatively low-priced” compared to beef and pork, said Grier.

Bacon is also high, Grier said.

It hit $5.69 for 500 grams last month, up from $5.26 a year prior.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @kellyroche6

http://www.ottawasun.com/2014/05/27/expect-to-fork-it-over-for-red-meat

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