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Brisket prices skyrocket amid coronavirus pandemic

Average USDA prices for Choice briskets have gone from $1.65 to $3.33 a pound.

HOUSTON — Coronavirus is now affecting a Texas favorite ... barbecue.

Brisket prices have skyrocketed in the past few weeks due to a beef shortage across the nation. It’s affecting prices at grocery stores and menu items at Houston restaurants.

“Yeah, this one hurts I think. Even more so than some others," Dr. David Anderson with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension said.

Anderson says the new brisket prices are painful.

“We’ve seen about a doubling of brisket prices on average at wholesale, just over the last few weeks," Anderson said.

He says average USDA prices for Choice briskets have gone from $1.65 to $3.33 a pound, and branded briskets have gone from $1.68 to $3.40 a pound.

“It’s the effect of coronavirus rippling through various parts of our society," Anderson said.

Charlie’s BBQ finally got their doors open to customers. And now, this.

“You’re able to open somewhat, and you don’t have the food to sell. It makes you want to close it up and walk," partial owner Frank Demeris said.

Demeris says luckily, they've been able to stock up, but their suppliers are out of brisket.

“You can’t find it. And if you do, it’s anywhere from $5, to $6, $7 a pound," Demeris said.

Anderson says it stems from problems at meatpacking plants including closures, slowdowns, and now, social distancing.

“Slowing down processing speeds as companies try to impose some distancing within the plant lines," Anderson said.

Customers will see higher prices at stores and limits on what they can buy. H-E-B is allowing only two briskets per customer.

Anderson believes wholesale prices will stabilize soon, but he expects it may be a while before prices go back to where they were.

“Hopefully we will get back to halfway normal. Even if we’re paying double what we were paying, we can survive it. But if we’re paying three to four times what we were paying, we can’t survive that. You’re not going to pay $20 for a BBQ sandwich, you’re just not going to do it," Demeris said.

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