Mid-Missourians pinch wallets as food prices climb

The price of ground beef has risen nearly 17 percent, according to CBS News.

Mid-Missourians are paying more for certain foods like bacon, chicken, and ground beef, the prices of which have risen significantly since 2011.

CBS News reports that from 2011, the price of chicken has risen 18.4 percent. The price for a package of bacon has risen 22.7 percent from 2011, and ground beef is up nearly 17 percent from three years ago.

Some shoppers in Jefferson City were apprehensive over the higher prices. "It depends on how much I work," said Joseph Stuart. "It depends on how much I make. I do work a lot of overtime, but when I am not working overtime, it tends to make me have to cut back a little bit."

A local butcher said the price of beef is so high because farmers across many parts of the country had to slaughter early because of drought.

"There's a shortage of beef," said butcher Jim Gerlach. "That's part of the problem, and this weather isn't going to make it any better. Because of the death loss of calves, it's going to be this way for at least two more years."

Gerlach said he thinks the market price per pound per cattle will rise to $1.50 soon. This past week, it was $1.42. While farmers might see some profit, those numbers translate into higher prices for consumers.

"I don't normally buy beef at the store because I own a slaughterhouse," Gerlach said. "The other day, I went in just to see what the price was... I saw the lowest grade of ground beef was around five dollars. Eight dollars was the highest."

"In my opinion, they've about hit the top of as high as they can get. This is as far as the consumer can afford," Gerlach said.

Although Missouri's farmers weren't as affected by drought, Gerlach said it did cost him more this past year to retain all of his herd. He also said the fact that Missouri's meat packing operations have all but disappeared drives up the price as well.

"The cattle are all actually leaving Missouri and being slaughtered in Nebraska or Kansas. There's no small packers left anymore," Gerlach said.

The economics of meatpacking, coupled with a widespread decreased herd stock could mean the price of beef in Missouri could stay high for quite some time.