The recent publicity surrounding lean finely textured beef (LFTB) has left consumers concerned about the safety and wholesomeness of beef. One result is that prices for 50% lean trimmings have plummeted to nearly half their value in early March, with a resulting decline in fed cattle prices.
Although interest in beef production is high, in part because of record-high prices that producers have been fetching, some producers have concerns about rising prices for food and gasoline, which could make consumers less likely to buy pricey cuts, says an Ohio State University (OSU) Extension expert.
"There's a lot of enthusiasm because of what animals are worth at the market, but input prices such as fuel, feed and fertilizer are still an issue," says John Grimes, OSU Extension beef coordinator.
Grimes says the overall outlook for U.S. beef is good for the next few years, with trade with Canada, Mexico, Japan and South Korea remaining strong. In addition, the rise in the growth of upscale hamburger chains has led to increased demand for higher-quality beef.
But he cautions that rising consumer costs, including gasoline prices, could influence spending.
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