Soaring Food Inflation Full Frontal: Beef, Pork And Shrimp Prices Soar To Record Highs

Tyler Durden's picture

We previously noted that both beef and pork (courtesy of the affectionately named Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus) prices have been reaching new all time highs on an almost daily basis. It is time to update the chart. Below we show what a world in which the Fed is constantly lamenting the lack of inflation looks like for beef prices...


... pork


... and shrimp.

More from Bloomberg:

Prices for shrimp have jumped to a 14-year high in recent months, spurred by a disease that’s ravaging the crustacean’s population. At Noodles & Co., a chain with locations across the country, it costs 29 percent more to add the shellfish to pastas this year, and shrimp-heavy dishes at places like the Cheesecake Factory Inc. are going up as well.


Restaurant chains, already struggling with shaky U.S. consumer confidence, are taking a profit hit as prices climb. Even worse, the surge is happening during the season of Lent, when eateries rely on seafood to lure Christian diners who abstain from chicken, beef and pork on certain days.


“It’s coming at a tough time for the industry,” said Andrew Barish, a San Francisco-based analyst at Jefferies LLC. “With the Lenten season, what you’ll see out there is a lot of promotions with seafood, and usually shrimp is a big part of that.”


In March, shrimp prices jumped 61 percent from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The climb is mainly due to a bacterial disease known as early mortality syndrome. While the ailment has no effect on humans, it’s wreaking havoc on young shrimp farmed in Southeast Asia, shrinking supplies.




James Johnson, a Jewel-Osco supermarket shopper in Chicago, has noticed the price increase. He’s been cutting back on one of his favorite dishes -- shrimp and potato soup -- because of the cost.


“I haven’t made it in a while,” the 29-year-old said. “Shrimp looks expensive.”



At Noodles, it now costs $3.34 to add the shellfish to a meal of pasta or pad thai, compared with $2.59 last year.


“We still want to at least offer it as choice,” Chief Executive Officer Kevin Reddy said in a phone interview. “As soon as the costs begin to normalize, we’ll return to the regular price.”

Ah yes, because retailers are always so willing to lower costs...

So for all those whose sustenance includes iPads and LCD TVs, or heaven forbid the pink slime known as fast food - you are in luck: the BLS' hedonic adjustments mean the rate of price increase in your daily consumption has rarely been lower. For everyone else: our condolences.


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Update: Eggs too.

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lemonobrien's picture

i eat lamb and fowl; like the gods; beef fat is undigrestable and shrimp (seafood in general) is either polluted by oil (gulf coast), or radioactive (fukushima)... so, fuck you.

NotApplicable's picture

I wonder what the Corexit/Cesium shrimp spread is???

Time to buy half a cow.

AvoidingTaxation's picture

Even worse, the surge is happening during the season of Lent...



Wtf?? Who in 2014 does Lent? Nobody of my 400 contacts all across Europe/USA/Russia/Africa does Lent.

Bloomberg is becoming shit as CNBC

Blame Bush and the Weather instead.

Say What Again's picture

My friend ran out of money at the bar, so I Lent him a few bucks.

gmrpeabody's picture

Who says religion is dead...?

Lent for everybody...

Say What Again's picture

My girlfriend has True Religion jeans.  They look kinda nice.

Landrew's picture

Funny you mention, Cesium, I just measured some Alaskan king crab shells for radiation with my ultra low background germanium detector. Zero radiation due to nuclear waste. I found the usual k40 peak and that was it. I was really expecting to start seeing something.

IndianaJohn's picture

lemon, -- that's right! Eat more lamb, 40,000 coyotes can't be wrong, can they?

booboo's picture

had to put one down last weekend, he was eyeballing my turkey decoys and stuck around too long, they are hell on ground game and I'm at the top of the food chain sooo, he's gone cause I said so.

ebworthen's picture

Love lamb, fantastic red meat.

This is all very bearish for Chickens too.

TruthInSunshine's picture

I will award a brownie point to whomever knows that the finest lamb in the world comes from the USA, and can name the Midwest state that said lamb hail from.

SteveGennisonBallWasher's picture

Best lamb in the world is in Iceland, but my guess of which state is WV?

Rusty Shorts's picture

Wrong!! The best Lamb Chops are in Jamaica, I know this for a fact!

SteveGennisonBallWasher's picture

Perhaps.  I just know there is no happier lamb than the ones I saw in Iceland.  Drinking glacial waters from waterfalls and the greenest untouched grass as far as you could see.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Ohio, bitchez!

Can you believe it?

This comes straight from the mouth of a bona fide Greek butcher friend of mine, who does a great deal of business with one of the best known wholesaler of quality meats, including lamb.

He swore up & down that this is true.

So, not b/c I don't believe him, but just for the hell of it, I'm eating baby lamb chops on the bone, French cut, at my favorite Chicago Greek restaurant a few years ago. A plate of 6 of these lamb lollipops costs $38.

I grab the waiter (who has worked there forever) and ask him to find out where the lamb is sourced from.

15 minutes later, he comes back to tell me he asked the maître d' AND went and looked in the walk-in, and confirmed that the best lamb chops I've ever tested -

- BOOM! Ohio, bitches!

SteveGennisonBallWasher's picture

Well I live in Ohio and didnt know that.  I know the local butcher touts Ohio spring lamb, so looks like ill be buying some this week.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Something about the grass near the Kentucky border, the altitude, air, dew point, Mennonite farming there, and the lineage of the breed of lamb flocks first imported there...

...and other things I most likely forgot.

But here's this true Greek (by ancestry), telling me the best lamb in the world comes from Ohio, and then so years later I find out in a whim question that the best lamb chops I've ever eaten...

...are purchased by the restaurant from an Ohio purveyor.

2 + 2 moment.

GoinFawr's picture

Tregaron cliffside and a pair of velcro gloves are all you need, just sayin.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

BTW guys, the big announcement today of poor Japan results?

Y'all realize it was made at 2 AM Japan time?

RafterManFMJ's picture


LOL, thanks for that.

You don't have the land for chickens or rabbits? Hit up to find grass fed beef.

Bought half a cow from some Amish dude, and I can assure you it is digrestable.

lemonobrien's picture

grass fed is good. in olden days, beef taro (grease) was for machinery (gears). Its harder to digest than lamb/goat.

TruthInSunshine's picture

The cost of beef has only started its ascent. The tribunal that while it will result in an initial flood of profits for the large ranch operations, it's going to do irreparable harm to their fundamental business model.

This is NOT like the great beef price shock during the 80s, which receded relatively quickly. It's being driven by insane policies on multiple fronts, mostly emanating from the inept interference of federal government agencies, and made worse by Mother Nature.

lemonobrien's picture

drought in cali, most likely will continue til the sun comes back to life.

Abitdodgie's picture

I live in North Dalota and day old calfs are selling for $400.00 dollars, because south Dakota lost all there cattle last fall with that man made snow storm. 100,000 head i belive.

Landrew's picture

So severe drought in half the world has nothing to do with it? Funny.

Seer's picture

Beef producers (talking industrial level here) were losing on a per-head basis a couple years back.  This went on for some time, and you have to wonder how long they could have kept that up.  I saw this and realized that this sort of thing was going on all over the place, that producers were taking margin hits in order to not lose market share, hoping to just outlast a competitor so that eventually they could raise prices back up w/o have price pressures from competition: of course, there's the issue of whether the consumer can actually afford your product, but most are thinking in terms that this is all cyclical and that they'll ride the storm out and come out on top.

So... after this we get various weather disturbances which put a big bite into the industry.  Lots of cows get sacrificed.  Hard culls to cow herds means that your ability to produce replacements is affected-> higher beef prices.  Takes many years to build cow herds back up.

Toss into the mix higher fuel prices (lots of transporting of animals-> lots of weight!).  Nearly all feedlots are situated well away from populated areas because of cheaper land, with the distance from markets made up in cheap transport.

Add into the mix growing demand from China (though I do not know whether the demand exceeds the drop from existing consumers cutting back).

First it was feed costs (and they're still up, though they've dropped back down from their highs), then (and still) fuel costs, then China demand, droughts, and now, with pigs, epidemics (somewhere in this mix was BSE in cattle).

The livestock business doesn't have the subsidy support that agriculture does.

I don't follow seafood, so no comment there.

Grass-fed producers have been more resilient.  They tend to be closer to markets.  Land costs, however, ARE a biggie (now that development pressures have dropped off from the insane levels that it was at I'd figure that we can see more folks enter into grass-fed).

Most people have no clue how difficult farming and ranching really is (ALL producers, big AND small, have LOTS of issues to deal with).

Everyone WILL be paying more (as a percentage of their income) for food.  This has more to do with a rebalance toward normalcy/historic norm than conspiracy...

laboratorymike's picture

Thank you for bringing some sanity to the topic. I live in Iowa and remember that drought, seeing one dead field of corn after another in August. The farmers were slaughtering en masse back then to get ahead of the feed corn increases, and now the effects are really setting in. Inflation didn't make the situation better.

countryboy42's picture

Mmmmm....lamb. Ever notice that baby animals taste better?

Seer's picture

Actually, younger animals tend to be more TENDER.  But... in the end it's really about how animals are FINISHED.  And then there's the slaughter, which can really un-do everything: stressed animal at slaughter = compromised meat quality.

Quality + good cooking = good eating, regardless of age (mostly).

LawsofPhysics's picture

That which cannot be sustained, won't be.

Personally, I am just happy to see my bee population wintered well.


ZerOhead's picture

CCD is still a real problem in most parts. I'd love to have some hives of the busy buggers on my property but I'm afraid the bears would love to have them even more...

EvlTheCat's picture

I am not sure about other places, but here, top bar hives haven't had any problems. Less honey but very healthy.  Just think; bear steaks marinaded in wild honey and wild rosemary.

tip e. canoe's picture

great news Laws.

best wishes for a fruitful season.

HobbyFarmer's picture

Great job, Laws. I can't tell if it's luck or what....of the several beekeepers I know, only 1 (out of 7) didn't lose any hives.  Most lost about 50%...1 lost all of his six.

Damn winter was brutal.

Seer's picture

Are you harvesting honey?  If so, then that means you're having to feed those bees in the winter.  I've struggled with this one, leading me to be stalemated over obtaining bees for honey: and, frankly, I've got WAY too much on my activity plate as it is (just not enough time to do all the things that I'd like to do- lots of things I'm interested in but not enough time).

SpanishGoop's picture

Sell gold, buy beef.


db51's picture

Don't have to refrigerate gold.   just saying.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Don't have to refrigerate beef, either, if it's walking around eating hay on your pasture.

And also, unlike gold, it produces more beef when you add some female beef to it.

mqg25's picture

Don't have to refrigerate my Gold either, and unlike beef I can hide it until I can pay off some Rustler (BLM) to steal your cow.

ILLILLILLI's picture

If one could only get that 'boy gold' and 'girl gold' thing to work out...

Seer's picture


Apparently people aren't aware of what the future is going to be like.

There's a reason why I'm a grass farmer...

db51's picture

I see a constant parade of deli made fried shit and soda going out the door EBT style at the local Huck's Convenience Store....with a side of cigs, lotto tickets, and beer.   Party on dude.  Price is no object....the same folks with a cart load of steaks at Wal-Mart....on SNAP Certificates and EBT.....and then jump in a new 4x4 and head their subsidized housing.

Quus Ant's picture

That's a strange way to spend your free time, db51.