Beef prices remain high, supply low–who’s to blame?


KELOLAND Investigates has been looking into the reasons why the price of most cuts of beef have nearly doubled in the grocery store, that’s if you can get them at all. Rising prices, empty shelves and limits on how much meat you can buy at a time, have become just another chapter of the pandemic.

Empty shelves at a meat counter in Brookings. Photo Courtesy of Jim Felton

A pound of 80-percent lean ground beef has doubled in price to just under $6.

“I went my God, that is crazy these prices right now.”

Customer Ellen Meadows says the high prices have limited what she can buy.

“I like steak and I can’t afford the price of steak. I can’t afford the price of hamburger. So we’ve been eating a lot of chicken and pork,” Meadows said.

While Andy’s Affiliated Foods hasn’t had to limit customer purchases of beef, they are seeing shortages in supplies.

“We’re being limited on what we can get; like he’ll order five cases of the tubes and we’ll get maybe two, Deb Nylen of Andy’s Affiliated Foods said.

And they’re having to pass on the price they pay to the customer.

“I don’t think anybody in town is trying to gouge anybody. Our costs went up, so of course, the end costs have to go up to the consumer,” Nylen said.

Meadows doesn’t blame the grocer, but she does question the meat processors, following temporary plant closures due to coronavirus outbreaks.

“I feel that the beef is out there and they’re just holding onto it. They lost money–a lot of money–with their beef and pork and all that. And I think this is a way they’re trying to recoup some of their loss. It’s just like price gouging–is what it seems like to me.”

Grocery Shopper Ellen Meadows on high beef prices

South Dakota’s attorney general along with 10 other attorneys general have called for the Department of Justice to investigate alleged price-fixing by four major meat processors.

Coming up Monday at 10, we investigate why ranchers are getting record low prices for cattle, while consumers are paying record high prices for beef.

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