You probably know that beef is one of the most expensive meats you can buy. But why does a steak cost so much? The answer has to do with several factors, including the scarcity of beef, the demand for it right now, and various production costs.
Due to weather, demand, and production levels, every food has a season and a price range. If you’re trying to enjoy more beef and less red meat in your diet, now is an excellent time to stock up on those chuck roasts and sirloin steaks because prices are at their lowest point of the year.
Great news if you love steak! There are many great deals on premium cuts of steak—especially sirloin, ribeye, and other prime steaks. But what about other cuts?
Here are some key reasons why steak is so expensive:
Supply and demand
Before delving into how much steak costs, it’s important to understand that affordable steak cuts are available.
These slices are used to make hamburgers and sold in grocery stores.
Given that there appear to be a lot of cows, you may be wondering why there is a supply and demand issue.
If that is the case, how can there be insufficient supply, given the demand? The choice of steak cuts is the problem, not the abundance of cows.
Only 10 percent of the cow comprises the best kinds of meat, such as tenderloin, porterhouse, and filet.
This indicates that the majority of the meat from that large animal—90%—is not of the best quality.
Supply and demand come into play when the variety of meat is limited. Thanks to the butchers and slaughterhouses that use every part of the cow, there is no waste. Unfortunately, that still leaves you footing an expensive bill for the choice cut you want.
Like painters, skilled butchers practice their profession over time before getting good.
Yes, anyone can start slicing a huge side of beef with a knife. However, that does not mean that they are properly cutting it.
A skilled butcher is familiar with all the cuts of meat and how to cut them. It takes some time to clean some of the most coveted beef steaks since they are located in the more difficult parts of the animal.
You anticipate that a cut of beef like filet mignon will be low in fat and have minimal gristle.
They cut the meat, selecting just the desirable portions while leaving the unwanted parts. That costs more and takes time.
A premium piece of beef may require up to 30 minutes to remove all the fat and gristle.
Even more swiftly cut portions of meat, like a porterhouse, still need to be properly and precisely sliced.
Customers who buy steak expect the meat not only to taste nice but also to look pleasing.
The price of your selected steak cut will increase with how tender the meat is. The quality of the meat’s cut determines how soft it is.
Due to their location on the cow, these tender meat pieces come from a portion of the animal that is not exercised much.
They are used less and are located higher on the cow. Because chewing on one piece of tough meat for 30 minutes would be unpleasant, most of us favor more tender steak cuts.
Tougher slices of meat are just as hard to cut as they are to chew.
When people buy meat, they want to buy the best quality.
Many individuals know that they want a steak with the designation “prime cut,” but they are unaware of its meaning or why it is so expensive.
The most expensive piece of beef is called a “prime cut.”
Each breed of beef receives a grade from the USDA. Prime, Choice, and Select are the grades used.
The meat of the best quality is given the label “prime.” Thus, this cut also usually has the most marbling and is the youngest.
At your neighborhood steakhouse, prime cut is what you pay a high price for.
The grading system helps maintain a premium price for better-rated meat portions.
Raising cattle is expensive.
The price of a steak begins with the rearing of the cow. Before a cow can be killed for meat, it must be fed and cared for roughly 18 months. These expenses include labor, land, supplies, machinery, and medical care.
A cow is deemed fully developed when it weighs more than 1,000 pounds. If it’s not grass-fed, this process typically takes around 18 months.
However, it will take a grass-fed cow three years to weigh over 1,000 pounds. This is because cows fed on grass consume fewer calories daily than cattle fed on grains.
Cows consume a lot regardless of their diet. Cattle farmers must be able to feed and care for their animals correctly. This entails avoiding diseases, illnesses, and predators.
Each cow becomes more expensive due to rising fuel, food, and labor costs. The cost is transferred to the butchers, supermarkets, restaurants, wholesalers, distributors, and customers.
Everyone in the cattle supply chain transfers their inflation costs to the customer.
Wagyu beef is expensive
There are cuts of beef that are costlier than others. The cost of the steak, however, might also depend on the kind of animal.
Wagyu beef is one of the priciest in the world. “Japanese cow” is Wagyu means where Wagyu beef originates in Japanese.
The meat boasts rich marbling and a buttery taste. It is very soft and delicious. The price of a pound of real Wagyu beef may be up to $200.
The cows are bred especially, so their muscles produce marbling in the fat. Beef becomes tender and pinker in color when it has more marbling. Many people frequently regard wagyu as a superb delicacy rather than a steak.
Wagyu beef production is strictly regulated in Japan. This procedure raises the meat’s price to guarantee the best quality and the highest standards.
Two factors are used in grading wagyu beef.
The first is how much meat the cow produces, and the second is the quality of marbling in the fat. The higher the grade, the more expensive it will be, just like USDA beef grading.
Only beef with grades A3 to A5 is authorized for sale in Japan.
Like American beef, the price of the steak is influenced by supply, demand, and quality. Wagyu is a costly steak because it is uncommon and of very high quality.
Since authentic Wagyu beef is grown in Japan, the high transportation costs to the US drive up the price even further.
Dry-aged steaks are expensive
Dry aging beef enhances its taste and softness. Steaks may sometimes be aged for months. The meat’s texture and taste are completely altered as a result. The steaks become quite pricey as a result, though. A single, dry-aged steak at many steakhouses may easily cost more than $200.
Beef cuts are kept in a temperature and humidity-controlled space alone. They spend a few weeks to a few months there, progressively aging. On average, it takes three to four weeks.
The meat dries out during dry aging, allowing bacteria and enzymes to grow. However, since such portions are removed before the steak is cooked, there is no harm.
Steaks cost extra because it takes longer to mature meat, and the controlled environment adds additional costs.
The meat dries out and shrinks as it matures. The steak’s size is decreased, yet the expense is raised. The crust is removed and thrown away before the meat is cooked. As a result, the weight of the steak is further reduced.
What are the most expensive steak cuts?
The most expensive cuts:
- Filet mignon
- Bone-in Ribeye
Prices appear to rise for almost everything, as inflation is out of control. Furniture, clothing, transportation, automobiles, gas, and food. Beef has seen one of the highest price rises recently. The high cost of steaks has been discussed in detail above for several reasons.