Why is good natural beef so darn expensive?
The question many folks are asking right now... Why the heck is good natural beef so dang expensive???
Well believe it or not (which it may be hard to believe), most livestock producers don't make much profit even if the beef is higher priced!
As many know and have experienced, the Coronavirus as wreaked havoc on everyone across the world and seems to just not end like we all hoped it would. With so many things happening in the world right now and no end in sight, things are all over the place and the only thing that seems consistent anymore is the rising costs of pretty much everything...especially fuel and food!
Over the years livestock producers struggle with constant rising costs on just about every level from feed, fuel, insurance, grazing, taxes, equipment, seed, and so much more. Raising livestock is hard and expensive and can be daunting at times trying to constantly punch numbers to hopefully make a profit at the years end.
This isn't new information, most of y'all know how basic economics work and what we're going to say here isn't necessarily a surprise.
SO here goes.....If producers costs go up, so will the price of meat and as goes with most food. This time last year (Fall 2020), the AVERAGE nationwide cost of alfalfa hay was approx. $170/ton. Corn was at $3.61/bushel and diesel fuel was at $2.55/gallon. Today is another story. Today, the average nationwide cost of alfalfa hay is now $280/ton, Corn is at $6.32/bushel and diesel fuel is $3.67. Just those 3 commodities alone is an average increase of 65% just within the last year. Yup you heard that right!
While these numbers are national averages, prices always vary by area and will effect everyone differently. Many of you folks know that when a business' costs rise their product/service costs will also go up appropriately to continue a hopeful profit margin. Not every rancher does this...balancing to make sure they are still maintaining a profit margin at whatever percentage that is. It's challenging to punch so many numbers and come up with a profit margin that not only the business or rancher can be happy with but also be enough to keep their customers happy and coming back!
One of our biggest constant stressors is crunching our numbers to make sure we are still keeping a margin enough to pay down debts, keep things growing all while trying retain and grow our customer base with our prices. It's tricky and nothing but a balancing act, but we have to do it.
Y'all one thing to keep in mind is that the beef you consume (at least for our beef) is a higher grade and higher quality beef. Unlike general beef you buy in the store that is implanted with hormones to make them grow and finish faster, raising all-natural beef without hormones or antibiotics takes longer to finish out properly.
In order to get that high grade meat, it takes high grade effort - feeding high quality feed also means higher costs. The longer we feed them, the most our expenses go up on that individual animal. The more money we pour into that animal the more the price goes up on that beef. In order to get that high marbled prime grade beef that really savors in your mouth, it takes time and feeding high quality ingredients to get just that. There really is a science to this that many do not realize nor understand and that's a-ok! Here at Triangle S we will not jeopardize the integrity of our feed or program to cut costs. We cut costs where we need to and where it makes sense just like everyone else, but we don't let that compromise our program because if we do and do it wrong it will drastically effect the outcome of our delicious beef.
What many also don't realize is the risk in the livestock industry. Raising livestock is never a guarantee. Reality hits and we have accidents that happen on occasion to our livestock that are out of our control such as sickness, injury, erratic weather, inconsistent individual gains and the worst of them all...death. You never know what is going to happen but one thing that is certain in this industry is uncertainty.
Y'all there's been times where we've fed and checked steers, everyone was perfectly fine, happy and healthy and the next morning there's one dead randomly...no legit reason just dead. Or you go out to check cows and see one with a broken leg from stepping into a rock chuck hole out pasture and now have to put it down. There's so...many...things...that can happen! But we wouldn't change it for the world, no matter how ridiculously stressful it is.
We are always trying to figure out ways to lower our costs, especially when everything is increasing. We do what we can to adjust where we need and get scrappy when we need to in order to bring costs down that we can actually control. It's nothing but a constant balancing act of what to cut & adjust & where. If any of y'all have met a farmer or rancher, you probably figured out that we are pretty darn good at getting scrappy and thinking on our feet! You have to when you have large bills to pay and constant expenses coming at you, along with trying to be prepared for the unexpected.
As everyone's situation is different on an individual basis, all that we can control here at Triangle S is our own ranch and our own operation. We would love it if costs were back to where they were a year ago. We would love it if we could lower the cost of our beef to our customers if it was viable. We would love it even more if more folks understood the reality and risk when it comes to raising livestock. However we and many others have to make sure our costs are covered to stay in business and please know, we will always do what we can to keep our prices of our beef as low as possible that is feasible for you...our freaking rad customers!