Grilling Season is Here!

With grilling season upon us and many local restaurants re-opening for business, we are seeing consumer demand for meat products on the rise! Jeff Swenson, Livestock & Meat Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection shares an update on what is happening in beef and hog production currently.

The picture is looking a little different between beef producers and hog producers right now. Larger meat packers and processors are having a hard time keeping up with demand on the beef side of things. While on the hog side, supply is tight and processors are having a hard time finding enough hogs to keep up with that demand. Meanwhile, local processors are being bombarded with people looking to purchase meat or process their own animals. Since we saw many larger packers close down last year, local processors are still recovering from a huge rush of people wanting to have animals processed and some are booked out yet even 12 months in advance. “We saw that people, during COVID, wanted to know where their meat came from,” Swenson said “and they really flocked and found their way to our smaller butcher shops and hit those retail cases pretty hard.”

“From the fed cattle standpoint we are not seeing fed cattle prices, or farm gate prices, keeping up with basically retail or wholesale meat prices,” says Swenson, discussing things from the producer perspective. We continue to see prices in the meat case climb, while prices that producers are experiencing are not following suit. And as Swenson says, “that’s a definite frustration for our farmers.” For hog producers however, fed hog and farm gate prices are up currently and in a better situation. But Swenson also reminds us that even though these prices are up, with corn and soybean prices as high as they are, hog producers’ margins are still pretty tight. Swenson is hopeful that fed beef prices will come back soon, due to a dip in supply that we usually see in the summer.

If you’re in the mood to cook or grill at home, make sure you include Wisconsin raised meat products on your menu. Or, go out and enjoy those delicious meat products at your favorite restaurant!