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Consumers, Store Owners Feeling Pinch Of Higher Meat Prices

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Jim Williams (CBS) Jim Williams
Jim Williams, a native Chicagoan, co-anchors the CBS 2 Chicago Wee...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – This is not the best time to be a meat eater as beef prices are at an all-time high and a virus is sweeping the country, killing millions of pigs in the last several months.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it means all of us are paying more for that steak or bacon.

Gepperth’s Meat Market has been a Lincoln Park institution for more than a century. Otto and Dianna Demke are hands-on owners, forced to shell out more money for beef and pork since the beginning of the year.

“A whole porkloin would cost you a $1.65-$1.70 a pound. Now’s it’s like $2.30, $2.40. That’s a big increase,” said Otto Demke.

That big jump is the result of a pig shortage, caused by a deadly virus in more than 20 states.

On the beef side, our brutal weather and the drought have damaged crops, driving up the price of what farmers feed cattle.

“We want the prime steak. It’s got that marbling in it. We want it to look really great. So what happens? The farmer’s got to raise that animal to get to that point, and that means more time, more feed, more money,” said Demke.

Outside this grocery store, we talked to shoppers like Charles Morgan, who told us they’re buying less meat these days. Morgan says he is buying more vegetables to substitute.

At Gepperth’s, the Demkes not long ago paid $9 a pound for beef tenderloin. Now it’s $14, but they insist they’re not passing on such a big increase to customers.

“There’s no way you can avoid a loss but you have to keep it to a minimum,” said Demke.

Otto Dempke expects for the high meat prices to continue for the next six months, but predicts meat sales will actually increase soon as the weather warms up and the outdoor grilling season begins.

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