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As Grilling Season Approaches, Beef Prices May Dip

Amy Mayer
IPR file
Cattle production is up in the United States.

With grilling season coming, meat eaters in the United States may be treated to slightly lower prices.

Many factors contribute to the price consumers pay for a pound of ground beef at the grocery store, but swirling market forces typically don’t have a quick impact on them.

Still, Iowa State University livestock economist Lee Schulz says right now farmers and ranchers are producing a lot of beef and the global market has some good deals on things like hamburger.

“We’ve seen significant contraction and culling in the Australian market, for example,” he says, in part because of wildfires and drought, “and so we can go out there and purchase that lean beef and that does help prices for our consumers here.”

In recent months, the United States has also forged trade deals with Japan and Korea, updated its pact with Mexico and Canada and entered into a Phase One agreement with China. Schultz says those should also be good news, eventually.

“They all have the potential to be major players for U.S. products,” he says. “The kink that’s been put in all this is the COVID-19 and the potential impact this is going to cause.”

Markets have had major swings just this week. But Schulz says there are indications the Chinese ports that had to close because of lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19 are starting to reopen, which could begin to alleviate a trade bottleneck.

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames