TODAY

TODAY   |  April 17, 2014

Beef and bacon prices are on the rise

A shortage of cattle and inclement weather conditions have led to rising average retail prices for bacon and beef, and everyone from restaurant owners to barbecue enthusiasts is feeling the pinch. NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports.

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>>> up the grill yet, you probably will soon. sorry to say we do have bad news when it comes to the prices of things like burger, ribs and yes, al roker is crying somewhere, even bacon prices are going up. nbc's kerry sanders is in okeechobee, florida. good morning.

>> good morning, when it comes to the cattle industry in the united states , florida plays an integral role, those momma cows give birth to baby cows. those calves are shipped out to the midwest, to texas, to california. but because of the drought, those baby calves that normally would be feeding and getting fattened up for the burgers on your grill, well, they're not. as a result, the price of beef is going up.

>> reporter: barbecue season is just around the southeastern in washington, d.c. where juan manuel rubio and his friends never miss a chance to get together for a cookout.

>> that's my main structure. the back bone of my social life .

>> reporter: but from barbecues to butcher shops to restaurants americans are facing shock in the form of sticker shock . the average retail cost of beef is $5.36 a pound up 32 cents since january. and the highest price since 1987 . texas cattle rancher jim guthrie blamed the southwest.

>> people liquidated herds because they didn't have enough feed to keep the cow.

>> reporter: pork price, also up, thanks to a virus that killed millions of pigs in the u.s. the retail price of bacon has spiked to $5.55 a pound. up 54 cents in a year. consumers are feeling the squeeze.

>> yeah, definitely looking at the price. you have to save money wherever you can.

>> reporter: still, some butchers say they're being cautious and won't raise retail prices too quickly.

>> if i change them daily, customers would get upset. you adjust.

>> i like my bake innocent morning. everything tastes good with bacon.

>> reporter: foes those who can't stomach the rise in bacon and beef prices, the number one alternative in america is chicken. polttry expected to sizzle. the statistics reveal that we have the lowest number of cattle in the united states . since 1951 . now, the experts here at the okeechobee livestock market say that even if the drought lift ares, in all likelihood, we're going to see increased prices for beef for some time. that's because there's a growing middle class in asia, and they have a growing demand for american beef. savannah.

>> kerry sanders and meandering cows this morning. thank you very