Fewer cattle, higher costs for necessities and pandemic disruptions are behind the surging meat prices

The country's cattle inventory is shrinking and has been for a while. In its third straight yearly drop, the latest cattle report by the United States Department of Agriculture found that as of Jan. 1, 2022, there was a 91.9 million head count of cattle and calves in the U.S., down 2% from last year. Fewer cattle mean that those trips to the grocery store could cost more. Meat prices are currently 7.5% higher than this time last year.