Orange City, Iowa – The cost of a home-prepared quarter pound cheeseburger is now 10.8% higher than it was just two years ago, and inflation is one of the main drivers of this increase. As Beth Doran, a beef specialist at Iowa State University Extension, explains, the higher price is the result of higher input costs up and down the beef supply chain.
Doran says hamburgers cost more because the feeder and market animal, feed, labor, fuel, electricity and interest all cost more. She says more cows harvested for beef due to the current drought likely means fewer calves in 2023 and a lower overall beef supply.
Less of a desired product generally leads to higher prices for that product, and Doran said people shouldn’t be surprised to see the price of beef at the retail and restaurant level continue to rise.
How are consumers coping with rising beef prices? Fifty percent of consumers surveyed in a Food Industry Association survey look for promotions and 31% use coupons. Only 17% shop for meat online. The majority prefer to buy groceries in store so that they can select the cut of meat they want.
At the Clay County Fair last month, Doran spoke at a local extension program, Bite by the Barn, about factors affecting the price of beef and how consumers fare. She shared data from a Kansas State University survey of 2,000 food eaters that provides ongoing insight into behavioral changes over time.
Locally at Bite by the Barn, Doran conducted a small survey (12 beef eaters) using five questions from the Kansas state survey and found real similarities and differences.
KSU Shopping Habits Survey No Change = 31.3%; Bite by Barn Survey = 33.3%.
Buy the same type (brand, cut, package size), but less KSU = 27.3%; Barn bite = 33.3%.
Buy different KSU brands = 16.1%; Barn Bite = 0.0%.
Buy different KSU cuts = 18.0%; Bitten by the barn = 41.7%.
Buy smaller packages KSU = 24.6%; Barn Bite = 25.0%.
In the Bite by the Barn survey, the most commonly cited change was buying different cuts. Respondents had switched to ground beef because it was cheaper per pound. But 33% said they always bought the same type, only fewer packs. And, when asked what their favorite cut of beef was, the rib eye was the winner.
If you change your beef buying habits, remember that the Iowa Beef Industry Council offers free recipes for using beef. Check them out at https://www.iabeef.org/recipes.