Consumers Beef Over Meat Prices

Louis Gorat, restaurant owner
At Gorat's Steakhouse in Omaha, Nebraska, they've had to do something they don't like to do -- raise the price of a steak dinner three times since spring.

"I hate it, because you know, I want the average family to be able to come in and enjoy a meal. But, the way it's going, it's tough on them," says Louis Gorat, the owner.

Beef prices already at record highs are still on the rise, selling for 30 to 40 percent more than this time last year due to increased consumer demand and supply shortages, reports CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

After a number of lean years, the beef industry finally has what it wants. Thanks to popular diets like Atkins and South Beach, Americans finally feel like its OK to eat meat again. The only thing is, they may no longer be able to afford it.

For cattlemen like Bill Rhea, it's a time of contradictions. "People don't know how to react, don't know what to do," he says.

With a ban on imports from Canada due to the mad cow scare, he's finally making good money on his stock. But he worries about a possible backlash.

"It's like anything else, we're gonna price ourselves out of the market," Rhea says. "We're going to run up against a price wall where the consumer says 'Hey, I can't afford this.'"

Bill Barnhisel thinks he's already hitting that wall at his Chicago meat market, where prices are forcing customers to make a choice.

"I think people are buying, maybe shying away from some of the more expensive cuts, maybe buying a lesser cut," says Barnhisel. "So instead of having a steak, maybe they're making a taco one night, or making some hamburgers or something."

You may want to keep those meatloaf recipes handy, because prices are likely to be something to beef about for some time to come.