Saturday, April 14, 2012

Where are the Beef Pot Pies?

What has happened to beef pot pies? Did they stop making them? I’ve noticed for the past couple of months that the grocery stores in my area sell only the frozen chicken and turkey ones. Is it just me, or is there a conspiracy going on around here.

What I do know is the cost of beef is skyrocketing. The price for a pound of hamburger is outrageous. And it doesn’t look like it will abate any time soon:

The price of beef has hit an all-time high in each of the last four months. Experts expect cattle prices to rise even more throughout 2012 -- and, if conditions don't improve -- beyond.

The cause is what Mark Miller, of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, called a "perfect storm of elements" that show the convolutions of the global economy as effectively as any PowerPoint on the European debt crisis.

"Last year, we averaged $4.83 a pound," Ronald Plain, an agricultural economist at the University of Missouri, told The Huffington Post. "And I expect we're going to average $5.10 and $5.15 in 2012."

Going into 2011, American cattle stock was already thin. Meat-eaters had been moving away from beef, toward chicken, for decades, so ranchers had cut output accordingly. The shift gained momentum in the mid-2000s, when the Bush administration mandated the inclusion of corn ethanol in gasoline. Cattlemen got outbid for corn by SUV drivers. The price of feed skyrocketed and livestock profits fell.

Beef was especially hard hit, Plain explained, because cattle require more feed per pound of growth than do hogs or poultry. Farmers responded by raising fewer cattle.

I’ll always have fond memories of you beef pot pie. Soon, your memory will be relegated to a myth; a mere folklore to be told around the campfire.

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