Beef Prices Predicted to Rise—Stock up Now

The price of beef is expected to head back up.
The price of beef is expected to head back up.

The Wall Street Journal predicts beef prices will get higher because of “a rapidly shrinking supply of cattle.” It blames drought and the pandemic for making beef more expensive to raise and driving ranchers out of business.

I snapped up six pounds of 85% lean ground beef at $3.74 a pound at Sam’s Club this past week. They discounted the ground beef because the expiration date was three days in the future. I didn’t care; we took it home and stuffed it in the freezer. In hindsight, I can’t help thinking we should have bought more.

I also purchased three thick ribeye’s at $12.95 a pound. That’s expensive, but it’s cheaper than it has been. When it was $15.95 a pound, I didn’t buy it. I would have liked to have bought six, but I didn’t want to spend the additional $35. Instead, I bought 3 pounds of beef kielbasa for about 60 percent less. (Oh, the sacrifices we make.)

On the other hand, thick cut bacon was $13.98 for four pounds. In March 2022, the same package from the same brand was $27.33, almost twice as much. I stocked up and now have enough bacon to last several months. I can only assume the price of pork is dropping while beef is rising is because raising pigs to butcher weight is easier, faster, and cheaper than raising cows.

Bacon pricing now and a year ago
The cost of bacon has dropped to about half of what it was in March 2022.

No Obvious Food Shortages

Compared to Sam’s Club visits in 2022, it appears the food shortage is over. Perhaps the threats of a food shortage after the Russian invasion of Ukraine were a self-fulfilling prophecy as worried consumers stocked up, leaving empty shelves, which just caused more people to stock up. Or, perhaps people are buying less food now because of the economy.

Bacon wasn’t the only thing that was less expensive. Canned chicken was down to $14.98 for a six-pack. That’s about 50 cents less per can than buying it at Walmart. It is also down from $19.44 in January 2021. Spam has also dropped about 20 cents per can from its peak. I added one six-pack of chicken, an eight-pack of Spam, and two more jars of peanut butter to my prepper pantry. This was largely to replace items we have consumed and keep our pantry topped up.

Peanut butter, by the way, was 20 percent more than last year.

Rice and beans ar well stocked
Not only are there full pallets of rice and beans at my local Sam’s Club, the are lowering the prices.

Each time I go to my local Sam’s Club (which isn’t that local), the rice and beans section has more rice and beans than the last time. It was so full, they had to park a pallet of rice on another aisle, surprising because the global rice supply is supposed to be tight.

I don’t know if the food shortages have lessened, the supply chain has gotten better, if Sam’s Club has increased its stocking levels to avoid sell-outs, or some mixture of the three. I know that I saw none of the outages, empty shelves, and missing items I’ve seen in the past.

Paper Products

There were plenty of paper products in stock, including more Kleenex varieties than I have seen in some time. Stacks of paper towels filled the pallet racks and more were on pallets in another aisle.

I am astounded by how fast we use paper products, so I also re-stocked our paper products. The cost of toilet paper is up 50 percent since before COVID, but we have at least a two-year supply. We have about 18 months of facial tissues on hand. The bad news is that if we have 8 or 10 people living with us, we will use things up four or five times faster, but I don’t have room to store four of five times as much paper product.

Spaghetti for less than $1 a pound.
At 91 cents per pound, the Member’s Mark Spaghetti is a better buy than pasta at Walmart or the dollar store.

A Good Time to Stock Up

Whether you decide to fill your freezer with beef to beat the price increase is up to you, but I consider this an excellent time to stock up on food and suggest you take advantage of the opportunity to do so. We could be in the calm before the storm, or more accurately, the calm before the global war. That, however, is the topic for another post.

As you can see above, I continue to maintain and “beef up” our food stockpile in our Prepper Pantry. Last year, I concentrated on food because of the Ukraine war. This year, I am still buying some food, but my focus is on ammo because of good availability and low prices. I don’t know what I will focus on next year, but lots can happen between now and then to influence my decision.

I hope you are stockpiling something, even if it is only a little at a time. Prepping is a journey and if you put back a little from time to time, when you look back at how far you have come in a year, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And maybe that much safer in the future.