Mindy Brashears, professor of food microbiology and food safety, and director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence, said US consumers should expect food prices to rise because of increases in the cost of production, and a decrease in supply.
Pork supply has been hit by the continuing problems caused by the outbreak of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), while dry weather in California has pushed up the price of beef, with herd levels at their lowest since the 1940s. Brashears also referred to the recent recall of almost two million pounds of ground beef by a Michigan packing plant earlier this month.
"[The ground beef recall] in and of itself doesn’t necessarily have an impact on our prices because if you put it into context, last year, in the month preceding Memorial Day, 191 million pounds of ground beef were sold," Brashears said. "But if you combine that with other factors, such as the PEDv virus in pork and the drought conditions in cattle, then yes, that does have an impact on our food supply and has caused the price to increase over the past several months."
Brashears added that the US Department of Agriculture and the National Pork Board were working to identify how PEDv had remained virulent and how to control it going forward.
"They are confirming cases, doing epidemiological studies, investigating the means by which the virus has spread," she said, adding that the epidemic could hopefully end within the next few months.