Meat prices fueling inflation, taking huge bite out of Bay Area budgets

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In the past year, the American economy has weathered the pandemic, then layoffs and furloughs as the country locked down or overhauled how businesses operate. Now there's a new blow: Inflation.

The Consumer Price Index rose 5.4% in September. A key factor for the sharp increase in inflation is food prices. Beef and chicken especially have created distress for consumers at meat markets and grocery stores.

Bob Strupeni has been a butcher for 44 years. Has it ever been this bad? "No, I've never seen it like this in all the years I've been doing this," he said.

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The meat manager at Piazza's in San Mateo, he has seen beef prices jump $3 to $4 per pound recently. Nationally, meat prices have gone up 12% in the past year.

"I've noticed some of the trend of hamburgers and lower cut meats are selling a little more than usual, but that's understandable," he said.

Chicken used to be a good budget stretcher, but not anymore. ABC7's Liz Kreutz found a package of chicken in Marin County priced at over $20 or $11.79 per pound.

Francisco Ayala is the owner of Chico's Taqueria in San Mateo. Chicken used to be his #1 seller, but as prices inched up, customers have switched to beef.

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"Chicken is overpriced," Ayala said. "We used to pay $40, 50 bucks. Now it's $100 a case."

However, his beef prices have also soared, doubling from $200 to $400 to make a pot of his customer favorite, birria.

Consumers such as Nancy Graham are shocked how grocery bills have skyrocketed.

"Double from the last two weeks," she said. Asked whether it hurts, she replied, "yes, and it changes some of my menu. That's what I thought I was going to buy, then I look at it. It was $12, now it's $24."

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Shipping costs are part of the reason.

"They've gone I've heard anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000 for the same container to ship things from overseas," said Piazza's store manager David Pinochi.

Concerns have also been raised about consolidation in processing plants in other parts of the country, reducing price competition.

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