Over-the-counter meat prices climb to ‘scary zone’ levels: food expert – Winnipeg
As the barbecue season draws to a close, the cost of meat continues to rise across Canada, even as demand declines year over year.
Several culprits are pushing prices up, food distribution professor Sylvain Charlebois told Global News on Friday.
“We are slowly reaching the gray area at the meat counter,” said Charlebois, who is also director of the agri-food analysis lab at Dalhousie University.
“In fact, we’re starting to see numbers that suggest Canadians are moving away from the meat counter altogether,” he said.
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In terms of volume, beef sales are down 6% from last year’s figures, and chicken and pork sales are down 12 and 17% respectively, Charlebois said, so much so that ‘he first wondered if the software was wrong.
Canadians are turning away from the meat counter likely because of the higher prices, he said, but also because of an increase in plant protein options.
“People are more tempted to go with lentils or chickpeas, which are probably much cheaper than beef, pork or chicken right now,” Charlebois said.
Chicken prices remain the most stable, with increases of only around one to two percent, he said. However, beef prices rose 9 to 10 percent, depending on the cut, and pork by about 5 percent.
The drought is leaving its mark on the market, Charlebois said.
“The last 12 weeks for cattle have been a bit of a disaster,” he said. “The numbers are all in the red.
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With producers selling their cattle, Charlebois said he expects stocks to drop in the fall, and with that, retail prices will rise.
The increase affects the inventory of at least one grocery store manager. Winnipeg Lucky Supermarket manager Ben Co said he started cutting meat orders a few weeks ago to adjust to rising prices.
“Everything, oh my God, is skyrocketing,” Co. said. “Now I’m not very happy. “
He told Global News on Saturday that customers were complaining about their bills and buying far less meat products than before.
Meanwhile, Garth Blagden, manager of Peasant Cookery, said the restaurant hasn’t changed its prices much since last year.
“We haven’t seen much of an increase in our prices yet, but we’re going to have to wait and see,” Blagden said, adding that a spike would be concerning. “If the prices increase significantly, then we will have to make changes to the menu, maybe products or prices. “
Meat lovers might not bounce back like 2014
Seven years ago, ranchers also got rid of their herds when grain prices rose, Charlebois said. Inventories fell and beef prices rose. Except that year, they increased by 25% in one month, he added.
“Consumers were scared, but they came back,” Charlebois said.
The Canadiens relive what happened in 2014, except this time around Charlebois said he’s not convinced they’ll bounce back to buy so much meat.
“With today’s competition and more and more plant-based protein products entering the market in Canada now, this is a really dangerous scenario for the livestock industry,” he said.
“If you like beef, buy it now. “
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