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Beef Prices At The Highest Level In Nearly Three Decades

Grilling season is nearly here but beef may not be what's cooking on those grills this summer. Beef prices are at the highest levels in nearly three decades and people here in Siouxland are already noticing the price spikes.

Grilling season is nearly here but beef may not be what's cooking on those grills this summer.

Beef prices are at the highest levels in nearly three decades and people here in Siouxland are already noticing the price spikes.

The Butcher Shop in Sioux City said this summer customers may be putting down the steaks and picking up the cheaper meats.

Mike Cunningham owns The Butcher Shop and he's been in the meat business for 34 years now.  He said in all his years, he's never seen the price
of beef spike like this.

"This is the fastest I've ever seen beef prices go up," Cunningham said.

"We've raised some of our steaks a dollar, dollar and a half here over the past month," he said.

With beef at their highest price since 1987, this may be the summer of hamburgers... or chicken or fish.

"Oh yeah, I've gotten a lot of complaints.  We're selling a lot more ground beef now, kind of going to the cheaper cuts and selling a lot more
chicken breasts," Cunningham said.

Most customers said if the prices stay sky high, they'll still buy their beef but they'll cut back on buying their favorite cuts.

"I guess it depends on the price of it at the time," said Kevin Bradbury, customer at The Butcher Shop.

"I mean, if it's up too high then we go to the cheaper cuts.  Usually, we try to stick to rib eyes, things like that," he said.

Experts said you can't trace the problem with the prices down to just one problem, though.

"From what I understand, Asia has continued to increase their demand for it. Maybe the cultures over there are becoming more westernized,
incorporating more meat into their diet. But I think probably the big driver of increased prices right now is recent droughts," said Tommy
Raulston, Briar Cliff University Professor of Accounting and Economics.

There are fewer cows being raised across the country and the demand for beef in Asian countries is seeing high demand.  For those looking to buy
beef here in Siouxland, the sticker shock you'll get at the meat counter is likely not going away any time soon.

Experts said it isn't just the price tags at the meat counters that could go up.  Restaurants could also start feeling the pinch and be forced
to raise their menu prices.

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