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Understanding meat prices

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    Understanding meat prices

    Okay so I am knew to this. I had family coming into town and got pumped to cook some brisket. I went over to my local butcher shop and introduced myself. I asked for a packers cut USDA prime brisket. They walked into the back and came out with this big hunk of meat (see picture). Price - $12.99/pound. Afterword a great weekend of cooking my father-in-law mentioned i can get USDA prime brisket at Sams club for ~$5/pound. I asked around and Cosco is priced at $4/pound, another local butcher at $6/pound, and publix at $10.40/pound (not prime). Feeling a little rattled by the differences in prices I called the original Butcher back and I explained that their meat is priced high because it is from the US and is a “better cut of prime”. Does anybody have any input for me? Did I get taken? How do you know a good price/product when you see it? Thanks in advance.
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    #2
    I used to work for a local butcher shop, and we were about the highest price meat in town. We could not compete with grocery stores on price because of the volume they handled. They good get much better deals on meats wholesale than we could. I'm sure this is exacerbated even more when you're talking about Costco or Sam's. We tended to stock only higher grade meat, and we would do specialty cuts to order. Most of our customers were purchasing for special meals rather than stocking up to feed the family for a week. So no, you didn't get taken, but if your main concern is cost (mine usually is), you might want to look toward a bigger retailer.

    Another thing, since small butchers typically don't move large quantity, they have to make a decent profit on each item they sell, so markup is usually higher. If I recall, we'd go about 35%.
    Last edited by Murdy; August 30, 2021, 09:57 AM.

    Comment


      #3
      I agree... the times I've bought special roasts or cuts from my local butcher, I did not feel most of them were significantly (or ANY) better than what I get at the big box stores, and the price is usually significantly higher. Sometimes double or more. It's painful.

      My local butcher tells me they use "top 3% of Choice" (their reason for declining to provide Prime) which you would think would be nearly as good as Prime - but comparing side by side with Choice from WalMart, I can't tell any difference.

      Comment


        #4
        I would agree that meat prices are all over the place and very confusing. That being said, all meat grades are not equal. In other words, there are varying levels of each grade. All prime grade is not equal for example. While it’s certainly possible you over paid, I would guess not. A butcher in a highly competitive business would not survive long taking his customers for a ride.

        Comment


          #5
          The picture of your brisket looks like it has already been trimmed. If this was done by the butcher it might account for the $12.99/pound price. Still high IMO.

          Comment


            #6
            Brisket has traditionally been one of the cheapest cuts of beef, as it is tough, has a lot of fat, and takes a long time to cook. Before the pandemic, Costco regularly sold USDA Prime brisket here for $2.99 a pound, Sam's was about that for USDA Choice. Since the pandemic and especially this year, I've seen the prices much higher, but even at their peak, Sam's and Costco have been around $5-6 per pound for prime grade brisket. They are both around 4-5 per pound at the moment, here anyway.

            A local butcher shop will always be the highest price, but to be honest, they cannot compete with the big retailers. They just don't move as much product, and they have to feed their families. I am certain you got some good quality beef, and you are more likely to find local beef too at a local butcher.

            I picked up some USDA Choice brisket on sale at my local Kroger back in June, for about $2.50 a pound, on sale, with a limit of 2 per "Plus card" customer. I now know to keep my eye out for sale prices until things get back to normal.

            I think I will thaw one of those briskets and smoke it for Labor Day next Monday... thanks for the reminder!
            Last edited by jfmorris; August 30, 2021, 09:22 AM.

            Comment


              #7
              All I know is for $12.99/lb I’m ordering SRF Gold Wagyu. I get what others are saying about quantities and such with local shops, but where I live I don’t see much imported beef. That all being said, the OP’s brisket does look like a beautiful well trimmed brisket. I guess you just need to try a Sams or Costco one next time to see if it’s worth the price difference in end result or not.

              Comment


              • Backroadmeats
                Backroadmeats commented
                Editing a comment
                Does your local butcher have a kill room?? If not he is the same as sam's club and Costco. Just doesn't buy enough to get the same price!!

              • glitchy
                glitchy commented
                Editing a comment
                Backroadmeats Some locals would definitely be worth it, that why I suggested to compare and decide. I haven’t found a good local since the place I went for years closed 15 years ago. I miss that place still. Tried a couple others and when I asked for tri tip and they had to order it instead of saying they’d cut me one I knew they weren’t like you.
                Last edited by glitchy; September 1, 2021, 07:16 PM.

              • RichieB
                RichieB commented
                Editing a comment
                I do a fair bit of business with a local farm, 1/2 mile from me. They harvest their products at a chop house. These are their terms. I follow on FB. So I know when the harvest is done and final product ready. A bit pricey, good quality and I enjoy supporting local farmers.

              #8
              Lesson learned. I still use my butcher for certain cuts (his Picanha is untouchable by anyone for some odd reason) but shy away from large cuts readily available in my local HEB grocery, Costco or Sam's. It looks like a nice brisket, just consider the big box stores for these larger cuts in the future.

              Comment


              • Backroadmeats
                Backroadmeats commented
                Editing a comment
                They have a kill floor?? Butcher and meat cutter is far from the same thing yet grouped together all the time..I can walk a steer in the back door and hand you Ribeyes out the front.

              #9
              Yep, the Meating Place here in the NW has prices that are higher but worth it. Well maybe. They use local meat suppliers. I consider it a luxury and have been satisfied.

              Comment


                #10
                You got plenty of input so I'll just say Welcome from Western Massachusetts.

                Comment


                  #11
                  I buy from the butcher rather than big box stores when I can. I'd rather pay for ballet lessons than pad portfolios. That being said at, at over 12 dollars I would be hard pressed to buy from the butcher.

                  Comment


                  • Backroadmeats
                    Backroadmeats commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Perfectly stated!! Thank you!! I can't compete with Walmart and I know it!! I get people in my shop all the time complaining about 5$ a lb hamburger telling me they can buy it at Wally world for 3$ a lb ... I ask them why the hell they are standing in my shop then?? It cost me 3$ a lb to buy and process the animal to hamburger. So I make 2$ a lb on the finished product..barely pays for ballet lessons trust me!! That said 12$ a lb for brisket seems a little steep

                  #12
                  As someone mentioned before, that brisket looked as if it had been trimmed. While I haven’t kept records my estimate is that trimming accounts for about 30% waste. If that is true a 15# untrimmed brisket @ $3.99 a pound really costs $5.70 pound. That’s still cheaper, but the higher the big box store price the smaller gap between the two stores. A $5.99 per pound brisket would really cost $8.56.

                  Comment


                    #13
                    I wanna be standing in Backroadmeats just so he can tell me “what the hell are ya standing in my shop”! Yessir! A goal worthy of having.

                    Comment


                    • Backroadmeats
                      Backroadmeats commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Patiently waiting your visit!!😄😄

                    #14
                    Thank you all for the detailed responses. I think at my intro cooking level paying for a better cut of prime beef probably doesn’t make a difference. I will be staying clear of the butcher shop for the bigger pieces of meat for a while. However, I will be sure to visit my local small town butcher once and while for that special occasion. Thanks again!

                    Comment


                      #15
                      I went to Wegmans and B.J's today. I looked at their brisket. B.J's always have full packers, but not today. Flat's only @ $7.99/#. Wegmans flats were $8.99/#. I never saw nor do I think they do packers there.

                      Comment


                      • Dan Deter
                        Dan Deter commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Hmm...my BJs doesn't usually have full packers. I'm jealous!

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