With beef prices at record highs, restaurants and grocery stores are facing a dilemma. Do they raise prices, and risk losing sales, or try to hold the line?
It's a dilemma that's impacting every business that deals with beef, and all of us who eat it.
Restaurants Struggle: Do they raise prices?
Mad Mike's serves up gourmet cheeseburgers to the lunch crowd.
But owner Peter Gelas doesn't know how much longer he can continue to offer overstuffed burgers for under $6.
The price he pays for wholesale ground beef is up up 25% percent this year, "from $2 pound to $2.50, sometimes $2.60."
But he worries if he raises prices....he'll lose business. "I really have to raise my prices, but I can't," he said.
Shopper Jeannette Cramer is reducing her consumption this year. "I don't know how families are able to use very much beef," she said.
Vera and Bob Stook are also frustrated, saying "you can blame it on the drought and fires and everything, but I'm afraid we're going to have to start our own garden."
You can't blame her. Filet Mignon is now $21.99 a pound at her grocery store, with a top loin steak (not as good a cut) at $16.99 a pound, prices unheard or 2 or 3 years ago.
Grocery Stores Push Cheaper Cuts, Sales
Jennifer Lien of the Kroger supermarket chain says grocers are taking extra steps right now to keep meat affordable.
She says they are pushing chicken, fish, and pork heavily, due to their lower prices.
"Chicken is a great value for our customers," she said. "Pork is also a good value, and we have ribs at $2.99 every day, that's a great option too."
Though a bit fatty, ground chuck remains under $3 a pound for families on a budget.
And she says grab weekly sales, like ribeye steak at $7.99 a pound, which these days is a bargain.
Her last tip to save: consider buying burgers and chicken breasts at the fresh meat counter, rather than in the shrink wrapped section where most of us go, where they are sold in packs of 3 or more.
That way you can buy just what you need, like two burgers or two chicken breasts, so you don't waste your money.
Related Story: Beef Prices Hit all time high: what you can do
"Like" John Matarese on Facebook
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)