Higher prices for pork, beef and poultry could reduce shoppers’ appetite for meat, reports Reuters. Spring and summer usually see rising meat demand as grilling season fires up, but this year may be different.

Consumer demand for meat may slow at a time of year when it usually peaks, industry experts said Wednesday.

With prices climbing for pork chops, strip steaks and chicken breasts, consumers are likely to put less meat in their shopping carts, at least the pricier cuts, say U.S. meat industry experts.

"The recession certainly changed some demand factors," said Sue Trudell, vice president of analytics firm Express Markets Inc.

Food prices rose 0.2 percent in April, but that was led by a 1.4 percent increase in meat prices, the largest gain in six years. Industry experts have predicted prices at the retail level are set to surge.

Rising livestock feed costs, partly due to corn demand for ethanol, smaller herds and rising demand from China have contributed to higher prices that include a 25 percent jump in wholesale pork prices over the last year. In the same period beef prices rose 22 percent, USDA data show.

Retail prices in many cases are just now catching up, leaving some U.S. meat company executives speculating over how the summer season meat sales will fare.

"It's too early to tell right now," Hormel Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Ettinger said on the sidelines of an industry conference in New York. "In many cases we just put through some of those price increases. My guess is you will see some volume declines."

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Source: Reuters