After a tough, seemingly endless and snowy winter (for some quarters of the country, at least), grilling season lies promisingly ahead of us. Typically the peak season of beef demand, this year’s grilling season is approaching with just a bit of nervousness given the cost of beef at retail this year.
Beef is traditionally the most expensive protein of the big three – beef, pork and poultry. So a rise in beef prices would typically signal good times ahead for the competing proteins. This year, however, is no typical year.
A disease called porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) has hit the U.S. pork industry hard the past several months. The epidemic has dramatically altered pork numbers, and pork prices are beginning to rise, which is providing additional support to beef prices.
It’s a fundamental law of economics that rising prices equate to less units sold. But the reality is that one can eat a little more pork and chicken when beef prices rise; however, when pork and beef prices increase, there is only so much chicken that a man is willing to consume.
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Of course, beef demand is not only benefitting from the scary proposition of chicken overload. This past winter was a tough one. I think there was a little extra dose of consumer cabin fever this year, as colder-than-normal temps, heavy snows, and a winter season that wouldn’t die kept folks bundled up and hovering inside. Now, however, winter seems to finally be on the wane, spring is in the air, and grilling season is around the corner.
People are ready to get outside, entertain and enjoy the warmer weather. Can you remember the last time someone called you up and invited you over with the enticement of “I’ll even throw a couple of couple of chicken thighs on the grill?” I can’t. It looks like good times lie ahead for beef demand.
Troy Marshall's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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