Beef prices, especially in grocery stores, will continue to rise in the next few years, as US cattle herds have shrunk to their lowest number since 1962.
While there were almost 89.3 million cattle as of January 1st, 2023 – this a 3% drop from a year ago, according to a US Department of Agriculture cattle-inventory report, linked in our sources. Although the drop wasn’t unexpected, a bigger decline in beef output may still be coming through 2026.
This drop in cattle herd size, is largely due to resource scarcity. Lack of rainfall greatly reduced the amount of pasture available for grazing, and years long drought in the plains has sent grain and hay prices skyrocketing. With the inability to feed their herds, ranchers across the nation increasingly liquidated by sending cows to slaughter, instead of keeping them to reproduce.
According to Courtney Shum, a livestock market reporter at Urner Barry, and industry publication – “With fewer cattle supplies becoming available, beef production is expected to undergo a sizable decline over the next few years,” as these weather and crop trends continue.
Cattle producers may not make meaningful progress in rebuilding the US herd until 2025 at the earliest. And until ranchers can afford to increase production – retailers, importers, and restaurants will be in competition for very limited supplies of US beef, meaning higher prices for you, the consumer.
PBJ Cattle Company is not by any means immune to these market factors, but we are ranching with economically viable herd growth in mind – through humane animal husbandry, responsible land management, and by building and maintaining solid relationships with business contacts and consumers alike.
Please use the sources below to learn more about the current state of the US Beef Production Market: