Beef Prices at an All-Time High a Good Thing?

In the recent months, commodity prices have soared to record highs, with the sharpest increase being in the price of beef. The reason for this increase is partially due to last summer’s drought, but it is much higher than most analysts predicted. This has begun to affect the profits of large restaurant chains such as Burger King, Wendys, and most importantly McDonalds.

1C7301038-130509_angus_hmed_1213p.blocks_desktop_smallIn early May, McDonalds announces that it would remove its Angus Third Pounders from their menu. The company said the removal of this burger was done to make room for other food options, but most experts agree that the profit margins are too low for beef items like these to remain profitable.

This has resulted in McDonalds and other restaurant chains to begin to retool their supply chain to put a heavier emphasis on chicken products, which is more profitable than beef. McDonalds has already begun to roll out new items such as the premium chicken wraps. This will definitely be more costly in the short run, but with rising prices, and more health-conscious consumers, it is a good long-term strategy.

With obesity at all time highs, and consumers becoming more health-conscious, this rise in beef prices could not come at a better time. Chicken is much healthier that beef, having significantly less calories and fat. With chicken prices being low, this could benefit both the restaurants and the consumer.

This situation can be compared to gas prices hitting an all time high in 2008.  Once prices hit the high, there was a sudden demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles, planes, trains, etc. They use less fuel, are much more efficient, and produce significantly less emissions that harm our environment. Similar to beef prices, consumers had no reason to switch to the better option until it became cost-effective.

In any industries of this size, change has to be gradual. Switching from beef to chicken is easy for consumers. On the contrary, in order to fulfill demand, restaurants like McDonalds have to completely re-tool their supply-chain. Farms need to change their facilities to accommodate more chickens, processing plants need to change all their machinery, and restaurants need to change how they cook and prepare the final product.

I personally believe that this will benefit both the profit-minded producer, along with the health-conscious consumer. The fast food world is changing, and these companies know that innovation is essential to adapt to the changing taste buds of consumers.

What is your eating preference at these fast food chains? Do you think this rise in commodity prices is a good thing? Have you become more health-conscious?