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The price of bacon and other meats is surging. Is there an end in sight?

Beef prices are the hardest hit by inflation and are up 20.1%, while pork prices have increased 14.1%.
/ Source: TODAY

Meat prices are recording some of the highest inflation rates at the grocery store, making chowing down on a ribeye steak or a pork chop considerably more expensive than this time last year.

It was 11.9% more expensive to purchase meat, poultry, and fish in October compared to the previous year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Beef prices are the hardest hit by inflation and are up 20.1%, while pork prices have increased 14.1%.

Matt Pavich, senior director of retail innovation at pricing solutions provider Revionics, an Aptos Company, told TODAY there are several reasons why any animal-based food sectors are being hit harder by inflation, including higher feed costs, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions.

"When all of these factors converge at a time when global demand is rising, it will lead to high inflation," Pavich said. "Although it varies by country and region, meat and seafood appear to have the highest inflation amongst all grocery categories."

Anders Hemphill, vice president, marketing and brand strategy at Superior Farms in Santa Rosa, California, told TODAY that prices are also going up in the lamb industry as a result of some of the factors Pavich mentioned.

"I think that labor shortages, increased cost of feed and increased cost of livestock have pushed our costs much higher," he said.

Geoff Latham, founder and president of Nicky USA, a family-run meat company based in Portland, Oregon, agreed that the combination of pressures is also driving up his costs.

"Every step of agriculture that somebody touches, the cost of the product goes up," he said. "With wages up, that adds to the final cost of the product."

With inflation climbing at the highest rate in 30 years, experts are split about when meat prices will start to stabilize.

"From a supply standpoint, things have been tight," Hemphill said. "I have talked to our livestock team and they are really unable to give me a clear answer as to when we will see those supply issues ease and we start to see our ability to meet the strong demand in the marketplace."

Hemphill added that it could be a "couple year cycle" to really make an impact on the market, since raising a sheep is different than manufacturing a product.

Latham is taking an optimistic approach.

"I'm an optimist. We have gone through two really rough years and coming out of 2021, things are getting a lot better," he said.

Until that happens, he suggested the best way to look for savings on meat is by getting to know the local butcher.

"Our stuff, even the stuff that used to be considered more economical has risen in price unfortunately." he said. "But from time to time, we have opportunities to pass on some good savings, so communicate with your butcher and ask questions."

Pavich, meanwhile, suggested this could be an opportunity for a new audience to try plant-based meat alternatives.

"One thing that is clear is that there has been a large growth in meat alternatives in the last year and that trend is likely to continue as more and more consumers express a desire to live a more sustainable lifestyle and/or because they simply don’t want to pay the premiums required to get meat these days," he said.

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