COLLEGE STATION — Sizzling prices on beef and poultry are the big news in supermarkets this summer, according to a food marketing specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.
Dr. Richard Edwards, Extension agriculture economist, said because of the drought and massive sell-offs of beef herds last summer, prices dropped. Many people expected beef prices to come back very strong this summer. “It just hasn’t happened,” he said.
“The supplies tend to be meeting the demand and prices are holding relatively steady now and should hold steady throughout the summer,” Edwards added.
The Fourth of July will ring in sales of briskets, with some retail chains offering packer trimmed cuts at around 75 cents per pound.
Even better news comes from the “poultry front,” he said. Poultry prices shot up last summer because the drought pushed up the price of grain fed to chickens and turkeys. This year, poultry supplies have grown from 5 percent to 6 percent, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report.
“It’s a market where just a small percentage increase in supplies can have a significant impact on prices,” he explained. “So we are already seeing some indications of even lower prices this summer.”
Shoppers will be able to find specials on the cuts that are usually featured. Leg quarters should range from 49 to 54 cents per pound. Boneless chicken breasts should be featured at lower prices than last summer.
What consumers will not find on sale is pork, which is in short supply, Edwards said. “If you do find a special in the newspaper, it’s not going to be something that would just make you jump in the car, drive down and pick up some pork chops,” he added.
At the produce counter, shoppers will find fresh peaches at 10 cents per pound lower than last year, or about 59 cents per pound.
Texas peaches will be smaller than normal because of the tremendously heavy crop that was set, he warned. But this is just the beginning of a wonderful peach crop from all over the country and sizes should increase later in the season.
Edwards expects the Texas watermelon crop to be excellent. He also expects prices to be about $2 to $2.50 in supermarkets in June. Savvy shoppers may be able to find them for about $1 each in supermarkets and roadside stands in some of the major growing regions of the state by late July.
This year is producing ideal conditions for other produce as well. Shoppers should be able to find lettuce at about 59 cents per head and green beans and squash from 39 cents to 49 cents per pound.
Soft drink prices should plummet as temperatures rise. Some retailers will offer 12-packs for $2 to $2.50, Edwards said.
The only significant price increase comes in a beverage that’s not consumed as much during the part of the year — coffee. Some of the upscale coffee houses already have increased their prices, he added.