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Consumers Prepare for a Rise in Beef Prices

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Consumers can expect to see higher prices on their favorite beef products this year.

"You're looking at an overall, about 4.8 percent decrease in beef production, so with less production, that should put some upward pressure on prices," said Iowa State University Livestock Economist Lee Schulz.

Industry specialists expect that supermarket beef prices will go up as much as four percent this year. That's on top of the 6.5 percent increase from 2012. Supply is dwindling as farmers sell off cattle with the persistence of drought condition.

Now restaurants are preparing for those price hikes. The kitchen staff at Daniel Arthur's revved up the grill for a long night of cooking. The fine-dining restaurant sits on Third Avenue near Downtown Cedar Rapids. According to Chef Mon Sayasit, beef is always for dinner.

"Our fillet, our rib eye, we sell them like crazy every day, it's fillet and ribeye day," Sayasit said.

With higher-end cuts of meat, the staff is keeping a close eye on beef prices.

"We might even have to make a change in the menu - we have not had to," said Daniel Arthur's Co-Owner Laurie King. "Our chef does utilize every part of the cuts of meat, so that's important that you get the utilization of everything that you purchase," King said. "So that's about all you can really do aside from raising your prices and quite frankly you don't want to do that."

When it comes to dollars and cents, Schulz said it's still yet to be seen what price tags will look like. He expect the struggling economy could help keep things more affordable.

"That may hamper demand somewhat and kind of push some of those retail prices down because there becomes a level when consumers aren't willing to consume," Schulz said.

As for Chef Mon, he's willing to bet nothing will stop Iowans from getting a good beef dinner.

"It doesn't matter how much it will cost, people will always buy it because they love the meat enough," Sayasit said.

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