Starting yesterday, Thursday, beef retailers and consumers across the country are expected to experience an increase in the price of that popular commodity.

The rise, we understand, has come about due to increasing regional wholesale prices in addition to issues related to supply and demand.

In an interview with Amandala yesterday, CEO in the Ministry of Agriculture, Jose Alpuche, explained that since demand is currently exceeding supply on the regional market, Belizean consumers will now have to dig deeper into their pockets when purchasing that type of meat from the processors.

He said, “The price of beef has gone up regionally. [Previously], we’ve had a relatively low [wholesale] price here in Belize compared to Guatemala and Mexico, but demand has increased tremendously and it has actively impacted the [retail] price.”

Alpuche explained that beef is not a regulated commodity that is subject to price control like some of the other basic commodities; instead it has a market-driven price, which means that when demand is very high and supply is limited, the retail price will go up.

By January of this year, that price had reportedly gone up to $4.80 before this latest hike, which has now placed it 20 cents higher per pound.

“We are informed that the price for carcasses – that is to the butcher – should go up to $5.00 a pound. Obviously, they [the retailers] will have to do a mark-up also, so the price to consumers should increase. I must note that although the wholesale cattle price will now be $5.00 per pound, there are only certain cuts out of the beef for which the price will be fairly high, so you will have varying prices [for the different cuts], but the same carcass price”, he further cited.

He pointed out that it is a developing situation and that agriculture officials are presently trying to meet with the livestock producers to work out some sort of stability in the price.

“We have advised the butchers to try and get together so that we can have a more substantive dialogue with the producers to try and see how we can moderate the price”, he told us.

Alpuche added that the Ministry of Agriculture plans to keep the public abreast of the situation while they work to strike a “fair balance between improving producer income, while ensuring that the public has an affordable product.”

We understand that wholesale beef prices (from producer to supplier) have been steadily increasing since January 2013 when it was at $2.65 per pound.