In the self-proclaimed “Barbecue Mutton Capital of the World,” barbecue restaurants are beset by rapidly rising prices for mutton – and everything else.
“The mutton has tripled in the last six or seven months,” John Foreman, fifth-generation owner of the Old Hickory Bar-BQ, said Monday. “Slices are $20 a pound now. It’s the highest I’ve ever seen.
Old Hickory, the city’s oldest barbecue restaurant, has been in business since its great-great-grandfather started a fire in the original pit in 1918.
Foreman said: “I heard the problem was transportation, shortage of sheep, shortage of ewes, 100 different reasons. I hope the prices will go down this summer.
Most of his sheep come from Iowa,” he said.
“We’ve been trying to get local people interested in raising sheep for a while,” Foreman said.
But so far it hasn’t worked.
“Pork and beef prices have gone up and down,” Foreman said. “We never know what the price will be from week to week.”
In fact, its website states, “Prices may vary due to supply shortages. Please call the restaurant for updated prices.
The US Department of Agriculture says there are definitely fewer sheep raised this year.
He estimates the total number of sheep on U.S. farms as of Jan. 1 was 5.065 million head, 2.0% lower than the 2021 inventory.
In January 2021, a total of 161,800 sheep and lambs slaughtered.
This figure fell to 154,100 in January 2022.
“We’re dealing with it as best we can,” Ole South Barbeque owner Greg Floyd said Monday. “Our margins remain the same, but we have to increase our prices. We don’t make money. I don’t know who is.
Keeping the same profit margin meant raising the price of the lunch buffet to $10.95, he said.
Busy, despite prices“Beef and pork are also up,” Floyd said. “But we stay busy despite the prices.”
Ole South, which opened in 1995, is the newest barbecue restaurant in town.
Floyd said he wasn’t hearing anything specific about future prices for mutton, pork, beef and chickens.
“It’s just week to week,” he said. “I don’t expect them to back down. They may never do that.
The USDA says, “Farm-level livestock prices are expected to increase between 12.5% and 15.5% in 2022. Wholesale beef prices are expected to increase between 4% and 7%. Wholesale poultry prices rose 4.1% in February 2022, reaching 26.5% above February 2021 prices.”
He said: “Beef prices have recently increased due to labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, drought in livestock country and accelerating consumer demand. .”
The USDA report added, “Farm-level livestock prices mirrored beef prices, which were 22.8% to 43.9% higher in January 2022 than in January 2021. wholesale beef prices are expected to rise 4.5% to 7.5% this year.
At Moonlite Bar-B-Que Inn, the city’s largest barbecue restaurant, Ken Bosley, one of the owners, said: “The price increases started about three months ago. The price of mutton doubled in one day.
He said, “All the meat goes up. When you order supplies, you don’t know what you’ll get. The chicken also comes out of the roof. The price of eggs has doubled.
Bird fluNational Public Radio reported this week that outbreaks of bird flu on the East Coast and Midwest have forced poultry farmers to kill nearly 13 million chickens since February.
He said: “An outbreak confirmed on March 14 on a commercial farm in Wisconsin has resulted in the death of more than 2.7 million laying hens.”
Bosley said a problem for restaurants is that a 100-pound mutton carcass only yields about 25 pounds of grilled mutton.
Weight loss begins with cutting off the head and legs.
“By the time it’s barbecued and ready to eat, it’s only 25 pounds left,” Bosley said.
He said, “Mutton is $19.99 a pound today. It was $14 a month ago. Chopped is $10.30. It’s doubled. »
The price restaurants pay for meat keeps rising, Bosley said.
He said, “Breast is $4.14 a pound. It was $2 last year, but it’s gone over $5. Livestock producers say they don’t see that kind of increase. It’s with the processors and they say they can’t hire people.
Pork, Bosley said, “is top-down. It’s $1.49 a pound now, but it was $2.50.
Chicken, he said, costs $1.89 a pound.
“It was $1 to $1.10,” Bosley said.
Moonlite has the biggest buffet in town.
“Everything on the buffet has gone up,” Bosley said. “Lunch buffet was $12.99 for two years. We increased it to $13.95 this week.
He said, “Owensboro residents are conservative when it comes to pricing. People from out of town say, ‘How can you sell it so low?’ We are fighting price hikes, but we have to make a living.