Well friends there is a lot of things going on in the world of meat. Unfortunately, right now it seems to be negative news for everyone. The unavoidable is prices will go up. We've already seen this in beef. The rough winter weather took a toll on the country's main beef producing areas. The weather's extra pressure on the market along with the cattle numbers being the lowest they've been since the 1950's added to us seeing record prices for beef in the last couple months. Luckily, the beef prices have leveled off and in some cases gone down slightly. But right after that perfect storm beef is looking to go up again as demand goes up for grilling season. Ground beef will be the first as we hit Memorial Day and the cook outs that come with but the steaks will follow.

On the other counter, we see another tragedy shaping up. Pigs have been fighting a battle that has taken some of the young as collateral. The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, a highly contagious pig disease, is taking a toll on numbers. The younger pigs find it hard to beat the disease and the writing is on the wall. With the diminished numbers of younger pigs we are seeing a slow rise in pork costs that is only going to be the worst at the end of summer when these little piggies are meant for market. The bad thing is that they have not been able to beat the virus yet. So there is no telling when prices will relieve.

So as if that's not bad enough the market pressures move from the beef and pork to chicken. Chicken is going to see a price increase as demand continues to move from pork and beef. Chicken has actually surpassed beef in sales for the first time in decades.

So your saying... "thanks for depressing me. What can I do?" Well, remember that prices may rise and fall as we go through the rest of the year but there are ways to save. So here's a couple of things:

1. Don't sacrifice quality. Even with prices going up the cost between a lower quality and a higher quality will be minimal or even shrink. If your going to eat it don't sacrifice the quality.

2. Try to buy in bulk, especially now before the prices go back up. Half cows, quarter cows and half/whole pigs are available for purchase to save dollars per pound. Also try package deals to get more for the money.

3. Don't panic. Shop smart. If you shop smart and cook smart you can weather this with no problem. Buy bargain cuts that are cheaper but offer more for the buck. Use meats that can produce more than one meal.

4. Use a trusted butcher. They can help you know the proper cooking techniques for each cut of meat. Also a butcher can help you substitute cheaper meats in certain meals as well as offer different ways to prepare anything you may want to use.

Even with the news being a little on the bad side, the truth is that as the pork and beef numbers go up we will be seeing some price decreases. Hopefully we will see the numbers come back down as the weather changes. And hopefully we will have something to be very thankful for when we sit down for a Thanksgiving feast.

As always feel free to email me or call if you have any questions.

 And Good grillin'!
The Ogeechee Meat Market Butcher