What is the Price of Beef? A Look at Current Prices and What’s Driving Them

Beef is a staple food for many households, but its price can fluctuate significantly based on various factors. Lately, rising prices at the grocery store have consumers wondering—what is the current price of beef, and why?

This article will examine the latest pricing data on different beef cuts and ground beef, analyze the key reasons behind beef price trends, and look ahead at potential changes on the horizon.

Current Beef Prices

According to January 2024 data from the USDA, here are the current prices per pound for major beef cuts:

  • Ground beef: $4.90 per pound
  • Sirloin steak: $8.54 per pound
  • Top loin steak: $13.02 per pound
  • Chuck roast: $5.44 per pound
  • Brisket: $3.71 per pound

The choice grade ribeye steak is even higher, coming in at $14.29 per pound on average. Ground beef prices can vary based on the leanness, with 93% lean ground beef costing $5.47 per pound.

Overall, current beef prices reflect an increase of around 8-12% compared to January 2023 prices for most cuts. However, prices are down slightly from record highs seen in parts of 2022.

What’s Driving Beef Price Changes?

Several key factors impact the beef prices that consumers pay, including:

Cattle Supplies

The availability of cattle ready for slaughter hugely affects beef prices. Right now, the U.S. cattle herd is the smallest since 2015 according to USDA data. Declining herd numbers limit beef supply and drive prices up.

Input Costs for Cattle Farmers

From the costs to feed and house cattle to fuel and transportation, the expenses cattle farmers face influence retail beef prices down the line. High inflation has driven their input costs up.

Consumer Demand

While prices have gone up, consumer demand for beef has held steady according to market research groups. This demand supports elevated pricing, especially for premium beef cuts.

Processing Capacity

Disruptions to beef processing plants during the pandemic created a backlog of cattle and lowered supply. Limited processing capacity is still driving prices up.


The volume of U.S. beef exported to other countries changes the domestic supply equation. Beef exports recently hit new record highs, reducing U.S. supply.

A combination of tight cattle supplies, high costs for cattle farmers, steady consumer demand, constrained processing, and booming exports have all contributed to today’s elevated beef prices.

Historical Price Trends and Seasonality

Looking back over the past several years helps put today’s beef prices in context:

  • 2016-2019: Beef prices varied between $5.50-$6.50 per pound on average. Prices generally follow a seasonal cycle, dipping in the fall when grilling season ends.
  • 2020: The pandemic caused disruptions at beef processing plants, driving prices to record levels. Choice beef hit over $8.00 per pound at the peak.
  • 2021: Prices moderated but remained higher than pre-pandemic, ranging from $6.50-$7.50 per pound.
  • 2022: Strong consumer demand along with high input costs pushed beef prices back up to extremes, reaching a new record of $9.91 per pound in June 2022. Supply shortages were a major factor.
  • 2023: Beef prices declined from 2022 highs but remained elevated, between $7.50-$8.50 per pound for most of the year.
  • 2024: Current prices have inched higher but are still below the peaks of 2022. Limited cattle availability is applying upward pricing pressure.

Price Forecast for 2024 and Beyond

According to USDA projections, retail beef prices are forecast to rise significantly in 2024. The USDA predicts prices will hit record highs beyond the 2022 peak.

Factors expected to drive prices higher include:

  • Continued limited supplies of cattle and tight processing capacity
  • High feed, fuel and transportation costs for cattle farmers
  • Strong exports and domestic beef demand
  • Seasonal factors like grilling season

Possible disruptions to processing plants or feed supplies may also affect prices. Most experts agree that beef prices will remain markedly higher than historical averages through at least 2025. Significantly expanding the U.S. cattle herd would take years.

Finding the Best Beef Values

While prices are projected to rise across the board, consumers can employ some strategies to get the best deals on quality beef:

  • Choose cheaper cuts like chuck roast, brisket, and ground beef
  • Seek out sales, promotions, and store loyalty discounts
  • Purchase larger bulk packages for cost savings
  • Consider buying and portioning whole primals like ribeye rolls
  • Substitute a bit of cheaper ground beef in recipes calling for pricier cuts
  • For premium steaks, look for store brand Angus beef rather than branded programs
  • Opt for Select grade beef instead of Prime or Choice for some cuts

With prices expected to remain high for the foreseeable future, consumers may need to adjust spending and purchasing patterns around beef. But knowledge of prices, causes, historical context, and cost-saving tips will help consumers adapt.

Why the price of beef in the U.S. has skyrocketed in 2023


How much is a pound of beef?

Item and unit
U.S. city average
Midwest region(1)
Ground beef, 100% beef, per lb. (453.6 gm)
Ground beef, lean and extra lean, per lb. (453.6 gm)
All uncooked ground beef, per lb. (453.6 gm)

Are beef prices up or down?

Prices dropped in the years after, jumping again in 2020, only to fall later that year. Since early 2021, beef prices have continued to climb.

How much meat do you get from a 700 pound cow?

Hanging Weight (lbs)
Packaged Weight (lbs)

Is beef prices going up in 2024?

The inflation report released this week revealed that both food at home and away from home continues to rise. Some experts said beef prices could rise 30% in 2024.

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