USDA: Beef Prices Highest In Last 10 Years

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By Catalina Trivino

As barbeque season heats up, so have the prices for beef. In fact, prices are the highest they've ever been in the last decade.

For all you outdoor chefs -- you may be in for an unhappy surprise. The cost of firing up a backyard barbeque is going up.

Meat eaters may have to open up their wallets a little wider this summer as the price of beef climbs.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says some varieties of beef have jumped by $2.11 a pound, breaking a decade-old record.

Kenny Harold, co-owner of Raybon's Grocery Market in Greenville, says he's noticed the increase. An average ribeye runs around $9.59 a pound in his store. He says the jump is due to the drought.

"You know it cuts down on the crops and feed and whatever and causes the feed prices to go up, so naturally, the beef prices will kind of fluctuate along the same line there," Said Harold.

Another influence in these high sticker prices? Less cattle.

In fact, the USDA says the total number of cattle herds in the nation has shrunk by two percent -- the lowest level since 1952. Bigger box stores, like Super foods, have seen the effect.

"During the year, it's went up at least two dollars and something a pound because it was... we're running $6.99, $7.99 a pound and now it's $9.99 so it's went up that much," Said Super Foods Assistant Manager, Dale Brown.

But will the increase drive consumers to alternative meat options? Brown says the high beef prices are making many of his customer choose pork or chicken instead.

"When you're feeding four, especially my family, they all love meat, no vegetarians, prices get high whenever you have to buy that much hamburger meat for spaghetti, or for any type of dish like that. So we like to supplement that with deer meat," Said Daniel Ingram.

The USDA says by the end of the year, beef prices will be up 3 to 4 percent. And whether that will affect your grilling season will depend on how much you're willing to spend.

Research from the Nielsen Company, who tracks what people watch and buy say in the first quarter of this year, beef sale volumes fell nearly 2 percent compared to 2012, according to a study which included 18 thousand grocery stores.