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Cattle Shortage Causing Spike in Beef Prices

If you’re planning to have beef for dinner… you may have to pay more.

A shortage of cattle nationwide is forcing businesses in our area to hike their beef prices.

Some people say those prices are the highest in decades.

According to a Weis Markets spokesperson, three years ago meat packers processed an average of 620,000 cattle a week and today that number is in the low 500,000’s.

For that reason area businesses say they’re having to hike up their prices and shoppers aren’t liking it.

“We don’t put out nearly the selection we did because beef slowed down quite a bit and a lot of people can’t afford it,” Robert Bunge, owner of Bunge’s Meat Store said.

A Weis Markets spokesperson says that the price of beef has been significantly impacted by the high price of corn a while back, which is used to feed a cattle herd.

Officials at Weis also say that some farmers have not expanded their herds since which has resulted in fewer cattle going to market.

Bunge agrees and says these reasons are causing a spike in prices at his shop.

“Chuck roasts are $5.19 they were $3.99 six months ago so they’ve gone up over a dollar a pound,” Bunge said.

At Gensemer Meat Company near Bloomsburg prices went up 20 cents a pound just last week.

The shop isn’t a retailer but the people who run it say they still purchase cattle on a weekly basis.

Owner John Gensemer says all of their customers buy in bulk – but even they are seeing high prices.

“They’re going to win in the long run because they’re buying in bulk but the prices are still going to be way up there,” John Gensemer of Gensemer Meat Company said.

As for some of the grocery stores in Columbia County, officials at Weis tell us they’re not seeing any issues with beef when it comes to availability and supply in its stores.

They are noticing that some customers are buying other things like chicken or pork.

A spokesperson for Weis Markets said some of their beef comes from out west — but they also purchase Natural Angus beef from right here in Pennsylvania.

Weis Markets says they have absorbed some of the price increases, but cannot absorb all increases.

As for shoppers they say no matter where beef comes from, it’s too expensive.

“We used to be able to get ground meat cheaper but it’s not anymore. I don’t go for it too much anymore,” Dawn Hetherington of Zion Grove said.

Back at Gensemers Meat Company they owner says this nationwide cattle shortage will likely have an impact on everyone.

“Now a days you have to think globally so yeah, in the long run I think it will probably be some of the highest prices anyone has ever seen,” Gensemer said.

Both shop owners tell Newswatch 16 they aren’t sure when beef prices will go back down.

They believe it could take at least a year for farms out west to grow its cattle herd back to where it was.


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