Inflation is through the roof, and it seems like the cost of everything is increasing. Beef has experienced one of the largest price spikes we’ve noticed.
Aside from meat inflation, several factors also play a role in increasing steaks. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why steak is expensive.
Factors that contribute to steak’s increasing price
The most expensive steak cuts are Filet Mignon, Tenderloin, and Bone-in Ribeye. You might be wondering why steak is so expensive. Several factors explain this. This includes:
Supply and demand
It’s important to understand that there are less expensive steak cuts available. These cuts are utilized in different hamburgers and sold in grocery stores. However, regarding supply and demand, the variety of steak cuts is the problem.
Only 10% comprises the finest kinds of meat, such as tenderloin, porterhouse, and filet. This indicates that most of the meat from that enormous animal—90%—was not of the highest quality.
Supply and demand come into play when the variety of meat is restricted. There is no waste, thanks to the usage of every meat component by butchers and slaughterhouses. Unfortunately, that still leaves you footing the bill for the expensive cut you want.
A skilled butcher is well-versed in the various kinds of meat and the best preparation methods. It takes a fair amount of time to clean some of the most coveted pieces of beef because they are located in more challenging animal sections.
They slice the beef up, with the unwanted parts discarded and the tasty ones kept.
Also, removing the excess fat and gristle from a high-quality cut of meat might take up to 30 minutes.
Even though some pieces of meat, like a porterhouse, can be prepared more rapidly than others, that doesn’t mean they don’t still need to be properly prepared and trimmed.
Hence, learning to be a skilled butcher is similar to becoming an accomplished artist. Anyone can grab a large side of beef and start slicing into it, but that doesn’t guarantee a good cut.
When it comes to steak, most of us opt for more tender cuts because no one enjoys chewing on the same meat for half an hour. After all, it’s so rough. The cost of your desired cut of steak will increase proportionally with the degree of tenderness you demand.
Higher-quality cuts of beef tend to be more tender. These tender slices of meat are taken from an area rarely used for other purposes, which helps keep it in prime condition.
A quality piece of meat is an expensive option. The USDA assigns quality ratings to various cuts of beef.
The quality rating system maintains a premium price for higher-quality slices of beef. Prime, choice, and selection are some of the available quality levels. Prime is the grade awarded to the very best cuts of meat. This is typically the freshest and most marbled. This is also the most expensive option at your neighborhood steakhouse.
Expenses in raising cattle
Raising beef cattle takes a lot of time, money, and effort. Farmers raising cattle are responsible for ensuring the animals’ health and well-being. Predators, illnesses, and other potential dangers are other factors to consider.
Each cow now costs more due to the rising feed prices, gasoline, and, most of all, labor. Furthermore, this expense is eventually borne by the end customer via the meat industry’s wholesalers, distributors, butchers, grocery stores, and eating establishments.
Beef cattle typically require 18 months of care and feeding before being ready to be butchered. When a cow reaches or exceeds 1,000 pounds, we consider it an adult.
It’ll take roughly a year and a half shorter if it’s grass-fed. It takes a grass-fed cow about three years to reach 1,000 pounds. This is due to grass-fed cows’ lower calorie intake than grain-fed cows. Cows consume a lot of food no matter what they are fed.
The high expense of Wagyu beef
The cost of a steak may change depending on the breed of cow used. One of the world’s most costly cuts of beef is Wagyu. Wagyu beef comes from Japanese cows which the name Wagyu derives from. The buttery flavor comes from the meat’s ample marbling. In addition to being tender, it’s bursting with flavor.
The marbled fat in the cows’ muscles results from a specific breeding program. Marbling makes beef softer and imparts a pink hue when properly cooked. For quality control reasons, Japan has strict regulations on raising cattle for Wagyu beef. A higher price tag results from this procedure. Authentic Wagyu beef might cost $200 or more per pound, depending on where you get it.
There are two main factors used to determine the quality of Wagyu beef. One is the quantity of meat available, and another is the superiority of the marbled fat. A higher grade means a higher price, just like the USDA’s grading system for beef. Only A3 through A5 beef is approved for sale in Japan.
Just like with American beef, the cost of a good steak depends on factors including supply, demand, and quality. Because of its scarcity and superior quality, Wagyu beef commands a high price per pound. Real Wagyu beef is raised in Japan. Therefore the high cost of getting it to the United States further adds to the already high price.
Expensive method of dry-aging beef
Dry-aging beef improves both its flavor and its softness. This process completely alters the meat’s original taste and texture. However, this also greatly increases the price of steaks. Depending on the steakhouse, a single dry-aged steak can cost over $200.
With dry-aging, tender beef is stored in a room with carefully controlled humidity and temperature. There, they’ll age gradually over several weeks to months. It usually takes between three and four weeks.
The meat dries out and shrinks as it sits and matures. This results in a smaller steak but a higher price tag. Hence, steaks become more expensive because of the time and money required to age the beef in a climate-controlled facility.
There has been an increase in the cost of all types of meat since 2020, but beef has risen more rapidly and significantly. Beef’s rapid price increase can be traced back to several causes, including factory closures, rising labor and fuel costs, and limited supply.
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