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We decided to conduct our own investigation, KCL-style. We built a test comparing meat prices from 2020 – 2021 to current prices at Costco, Walmart, Winco, Aldi, Sam’s Club, and Kroger. Fortunately, our results show that there’s still a way to buy your proteins without going broke.
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Prices may vary per region and store.
1. Meat prices have risen more rapidly than a few other items in the Consumer Price Index.
Believe it or not, prices of meats, poultry, and fish have had an overall 4.2% increase in the past few years (which seems far less than the 70.1% increase in egg prices). That figure tops the 2.2% increase in gasoline prices and 3.6% increase on peanut butter, according to the Consumer Price Index. However, we’ve uncovered price increases as high as 67.5% on ground beef. Keep this in mind the next time you’re thinking about grilling up burgers.
2. Why are meat prices high?
There are a few factors to blame for increased meat prices, two of which are COVID and inflation. Meat production plants shut down during COVID. And because production slowed, ranchers had nowhere to send their beef. Many had to scale back their beef production big time.
The labor shortage issues exacerbated everything and created a huge imbalance. Once the demand for meat started to rise, there became a supply and demand issue that skyrocketed the price of meat.
3. Some Costco meat prices have increased as high as 25%.
- The price of boneless chicken breast will run you $3.49 per pound at Costco, which is $0.50 or 14% more a pound than it was in May 2022.
- 88% lean ground beef has risen 8% since 2021. Expect to pay $3.98 per pound at Costco.
- Although Costco steak prices increased 25% early in 2022, they currently hover around 2021 prices of $7.99 – $16.99 per pound.
4. Walmart chicken prices have increased 38%.
- Chicken prices at Walmart have seen an increase of about 38%. In 2021 we saw prices a little over $2 per pound. Now prices are at $2.97 per pound.
- Ground beef has seen a nearly $1.70 price increase at Walmart. A 1-pound pack of lean ground beef will cost you 31% more at $5.67 today.
- Expect to pay more for steak at Walmart. In 2021 the price for a NY Strip Steak was $11.97 per pound. Now you can expect to pay $14.97 per pound, a 20% increase.
5. Aldi ground beef prices have increased 19.8% since 2020.
- Chicken prices at Aldi have increased by 8.04% since 2020. Price per pound for chicken in 2020 was $2.29. Expect to pay $2.49 per pound now.
- Ground beef prices have seen a 19.8% increase from prices reported in 2020. Your standard 85% lean ground beef is priced at $4.29 per pound.
- If you’re going to buy one kind of meat at Aldi, buy steak. The price of USDA Choice Ribeye Steak at $12.49 has increased by only 2.94% since 2021.
6. Kroger meat prices have seen the highest increases all around — up to 61.73%.
- The current price of $4.79 a pound for chicken breasts at Kroger is an increase of 58.45% since 2021.
- With a 51.5% increase, 93% lean ground beef at Kroger has the highest increase compared to all other stores. Currently, it costs $7.49 for a 1-pound pack of ground beef.
- Steak prices at Kroger have seen over a 61.73% increase. The price of a New York Strip Steak in 2021 was $4.97 per pound. Now expect to pay $12.99 per pound for the same cut of meat.
Related: Thinking about buying a whole cow? We can answer the question: how much does a cow cost?
7. Sam’s Club chicken prices have increased 36.57% since 2021.
- Currently, Sam’s Club is charging $2.98 per pound for fresh boneless chicken breast. In 2021 the price was $1.89 per pound, which is over a 36.57% increase.
- Ground beef prices have increased a very minimal amount comparatively at about 4.46% since 2021. In 2021 prices were $4.28. Now you can expect to pay $4.48 per pound.
8. Winco chicken and beef prices have all increased 51% to 67.5%.
- Winco chicken prices have increased to $2.88 or 51% per pound since 2020.
- Pay $5.28 for one pound of ground beef at Winco, a 67.5% increase from 2020 prices.
- The cost of a tri-tip steak was $5.98 per pound in 2020. You’ll be paying a penny more in 2023 per pound if you want to buy tri-tip at Winco today.
9. Where to buy your meat depends on the cut you want.
There are plenty of out-of-the-box ways to get cheap meat. Keep in mind, prices vary by location, but remember these meat tips on your next grocery store run:
- Stock up on chicken at Aldi for $2.49 a pound, with Winco being your next best option at $2.88 per pound.
- Ground beef has had the highest price increases overall. If you’re going to buy it, Costco has it at $3.98 per pound, followed by Aldi at $4.29 per pound.
- With a 2.94% increase in steak prices, Aldi is your best bet for expensive cuts like Ribeye at $12.49 a pound; if you prefer the cheaper tri-tip steak, shop Winco to get it for $5.98 a pound.