BUTTE — Prices for high-quality meat continue to go up and butchers in Butte are concerned it could affect their holiday sales.
“Prime rib is going to be at least $100 more at Christmas than it was last year for an average 15-pound prime rib right now at these prices. I don’t what they’re going to be at Christmas,” said Riley’s Meats owner Bart Riley.
Riley’s Meats says customers need to order their holiday meats now because they won’t have any stocked up by November, because of the uncertainty.
“I feel bad telling customers who walk in, ‘I got to tell you what these are going to cost before you buy them because this is up again from last week,” said Riley.
Riley blames the four major meatpackers that he believes unfairly inflated the price of meat. Both Montana’s U.S. Senators favor a federal investigation into the nation’s meatpacking industry for violations of antitrust laws.
“They’re making record profits in 2020 that are in the billions and the ranchers aren’t getting paid that kind of money and consumers are paying record highs for beef,” said Riley.
Western Meat Block owner Chad Carpenter agrees, “and the way prices are now, it’s going to be significantly higher than in past years for prime rib and baron of beef, even some of the lower grade cuts, the rounds are higher than they should be.”
Some local butchers say the best way to get higher grades of meat at lower costs like this prime rib at your holiday table, would be if they had more local slaughterhouses to deal with.
“So, we keep more of our beef and our livestock in Montana instead of sending to the big slaughterhouses that are driving these prices up. If we could keep it here, I think it would be better,” said Carpenter.