Beef, pork join growing list of foods with rising price tags

Posted April 6, 2011 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated April 6, 2011 6:36 p.m. EDT

— Increased foreign demand has upped wholesale beef and pork prices by 25 percent compared to last year, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture says there's no end in sight to rising prices.

Beef and pork now join the growing list of food that's become more expensive in recent months. Some restaurants scaled back their tomato use after late-season freezes in Florida and Arizona damaged crops in mid-February.

Some economists are predicting that it will get worse before it gets better, leaving Triangle consumers and merchants looking harder at the bottom line.

Merritt's Store and Grill in Chapel Hill, 1009 S. Columbia St., is known for its BLT sandwiches. Manager Christine Lang said the restaurant uses 30 pounds of bacon every day. 

Bacon prices are up about 35 cents a pound, she said, and it's a hit they're taking hard.

"As a small business we have to actually re-evaluate," Lang said.

Without hurting the quality of food they offer, she said, the shop is forced to consider raising prices.

"It's going to be tough, but we'll figure it out," Lang said.

Rising wholesale prices are bound to effect consumers, according to economists at North Carolina State University, who said that a $9 increase at the wholesale level will mean a $3 increase for the consumer.

It hasn't gone unnoticed. 

"I definitely notice on the bottom line (that) things are going up, especially in the meat department," said Jennifer Newall.

But the Chapel Hill mother of three said she won't let rising costs change her family's eating routine.