Dec 3, 2021 - Business

Meat prices rise in Arkansas

Illustration of a burger stacked high with money
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Everyone knows whole turkeys were in high demand recently.

  • But as you prepare for other holiday gatherings, expect to pay more for all meat and poultry.

Why it matters: On average, Americans spend about 10% of their income on food, so as prices rise, people with lower incomes are hit hardest.

While there are other sources of protein, meat and poultry are significant protein staples for most people. We eat about 220 pounds of red meat and poultry per year in the U.S.

By the numbers: The consumer price index for food eaten both at home and outside the home is up more than 5% over the past 12 months.

  • However, it's up almost 12% for meats, poultry, fish and eggs.
  • Beef alone is up more than 20% and pork more than 14%.

State of play: Springdale's Tyson Foods is the leading U.S. producer of chicken and second-leading producer of both beef and pork.

  • In its fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this month, the company cited higher grain costs, staffing challenges at processing plants and higher transportation costs for higher prices to its customers.
  • The low-cost consumer go-to, McDonald's, recently said it will be raising prices to offset wage and supply costs.

What they're saying: Richard McGinnis, owner of Richard's Country Meat Market in Fayetteville, said all meat prices are up about 25% compared to 2019, the most recent "normal year."

  • Ribeyes and tenderloins have seen the steepest increase, up 25% from this same time last year.
  • Despite the rise in prices, business has remained good, McGinnis told Axios.

But it's harder than ever to source the meat he sells. He's moved from two primary vendors to sourcing from four, and he still can't get everything he'd like, noting hams are in short supply.

The bottom line: There are other options for holiday meals and plant-based proteins are plentiful and more in demand than ever.

Editor's note: Reporter Worth Sparkman formerly worked at Tyson Foods.

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