Inflation’s next victim might be your Sunday dinner.
North American beef prices are soaring as a labor crunch squeezes meatpackers and supply-chain snarls add to freight costs. In Canada, prices for a prime rib roast have risen 20 per cent in the past year and are the highest since at least 1995, Statistics Canada data show. Sirloin and round steaks have surged as much as 10 per cent in the last year and in the U.S. beef steaks are fetching record prices.
“It’s crazy, people can’t afford that,” said Ivan Korzenowski, a shopper who found a rib roast at a grocer in Regina, Saskatchewan, selling for $124 (US$99) in late October. “Why is everything getting outrageously priced?”
Empire Co. Ltd., which owns grocery chains Sobeys Inc. and Safeway Canada, is doing “everything we can to work with our supplier partners to keep our prices as low as we can for our customers,” spokeswoman Karen White-Boswell said in an email.
The sticker shock may be here to stay. With prices for everything from cooking oil to dairy rising it’s very difficult to decipher which costs are unreasonable as further hikes are likely to come, said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“There’s going to be a lot of things that are going to rise and we’re honestly in the second inning of a nine-inning game of inflation,” Charlebois said by phone. “This is only the beginning.”