With Apologies to Any All-Meat Holdouts, the Atkins Craze Is Officially History

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), May 17, 2006 | Go to article overview

With Apologies to Any All-Meat Holdouts, the Atkins Craze Is Officially History


Byline: Joe Mosley The Register-Guard

With apologies to any all-meat holdouts, the Atkins craze is officially history.

Meat production nationwide - still ramped-up in response to several years of low-carb, high-protein demand - has outpaced appetites for chicken, beef and pork this year, as "balance" returns as a key word for diet and nutrition.

The result is mostly flat or even declining prices - at least at the wholesale level.

"I don't think you see it so much in the store, because the additional price of fuel and those things are getting added on," said Chris Bartels, owner of Bartels Meat Co., a packing house near Veneta. "And there's always a hesitation to lower prices at the retail level."

But Bartels said the commercial price for live cattle has dropped from 96 cents per pound in March to the current 76 cents.

According to the Livestock Marketing Information Center, benchmark wholesale prices for beef and pork are down more than 8 percent from a year ago, and chicken prices are down 20 percent. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast that retail prices for meat will be flat or even decline by as much as 1 percent this year - compared to a projected increase of 2 percent to 3 percent for all foods.

On the local retail level, annual supply-and-demand cycles have obscured the larger picture of long-term pricing.

Mike Wooley, owner of Long's Meat Market in Eugene's Southtowne Shops, said the prices of "primal cuts" - the high-end cuts of meat - have been rising as the summer barbecue season sets in. At the same time, lower-quality cuts have dropped in price as the demand for them fell off.

"You've got so much barbecue going on with your premium steaks, they wind up grinding the rounds and the chucks (into ground beef)," Wooley said. …

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