Beef prices spike to $5.28 per pound

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Summer is just around the corner and so is grilling season, but your next rib-eye steak will likely come with a hearty side of sticker shock.

That's because the price of beef has spiked due to extreme weather that has thinned the nation's cattle herds.

"Right now we're $6.99 a pound on rib-eyes," said John Rose, owner of Carroll's Meat Shoppe in Jacksonville. "For a Carroll's 8-ounce filet, that's $4.99 a pound. Now that's something we do for the customers. Now if you go to a chain store, you're looking at $18.99 a pound. It's as high as it's ever, ever been."

Cattle herds are at their lowest levels since 1951, which has led to an all-time high in beef prices that shoppers can't help but notice.

"My husband is a beef fiend. He absolutely loves it," shopper Darla Erdelyi said. "It's crazy. It really is. Because he does -- he wants beef. And we do enjoy cooking out on the weekends, and sometimes I'm to the point where I just can't and we're saying no, and it's just chicken, chicken and chicken."

"I'm probably going to buy some rib-eye steaks and some beef tenderloins," shopper Brian Schneider said, adding that he's concerned about the prices. "You're seeing steaks run between $12 and $14 a pound, and some here you can find for as little as $8 a pound here at Carroll's."

In February, "all fresh" U.S. Department of Agriculture beef cost about $5.28 a pound, up significantly from $4.91 at the same time last year.

In 2008, the same grade ran just $3.97 a pound.

"A 75-cent jump is a big jump in the meat industry," Rose said. "It's a wallop."

With no sign of things easing up, regular meat-eaters say they'll probably have to scale back until prices level out.

"We've got to cut down on our meat, and I need the meat to survive," shopper Trisha Ledger said.

The meat department at Carroll's said beef prices could go up another dollar a pound over the next few months. But Carroll's said it'll do everything it can to keep from pushing the cost onto its customers.

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