The first day of summer is Tuesday, which means many of us will start thinking about firing up the grill more often.  And typically this time of year, we see ground beef demand surge, but that jump didn’t come this year.  Dr. Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University livestock market economist, said that’s because demand for ground beef is stronger than usual right now.

“If you

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look over the last several months, really back to about this time last year, we saw beef markets at the wholesale level in particular across the board for all of the cuts as well as for ground beef. There's lots of ways to make ground beef, obviously, but if you look at kind of a generalized ground beef price series, it moved sharply higher about a year ago and stayed high through the rest of the year and has stayed high so far this year, and that's been kind of the story. Again, we didn't see that May increase seasonally, but we were already at a very strong level, and we've just really haven't seen that ground beef market falter at all.”

Because of inflation, Peel said consumers are still buying beef, but they may trade some of the higher-end products for a product of lower value to get a better price.  Typically, consumers would turn to ground beef over other beef cuts.

“The ground beef market has continued strong, and I don't think the strength that we see today is the result really of significant amounts of trading down at this point. I think that market has just been very strong, and it's really got two sides to it. One of them is this time of the year with grilling season the retail part of the ground beef market is very strong, consumers taking a lot of burgers home to cook on the grill or on their weekend outings. While we also have of course the underlying food service demand, particularly the fast-food restaurants, and that has been very strong, again, for about the last year.”

Some of the other beef cuts that were high last year, Peel says, have adjusted down significantly from the beginning of the year to now.

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