NEW YORK (AP) - Rising beef prices might not mean the cost of a Whopper is going to skyrocket, but it could mean you'll be encouraged to order a chicken sandwich instead.
Beef prices have climbed in part because of rising demand overseas and droughts in recent years that have caused livestock producers to shrink their cattle herds. The average, year-to-date price for 81 percent lean ground beef is $2.18 per pound. That's according to Kevin Good, an analyst at CattleFax, a Colorado-based tracker of the beef industry. The figure is up 24 percent from a year ago.
The soaring prices have hurt fast-food restaurants that feature beef as the centerpiece of their menus: Burger King, Wendy's and McDonald's - the nation's three biggest burger chains - all say they're dealing with higher beef costs.
But fast-food chains, which sometimes pass along additional costs for ingredients to customers, realize there's only so much people are willing to pay for a burger. So, they're taking other measures to help ease the pressure, such as slashing expenses elsewhere or trying to get people to order other things on their menus.