A Little Bit Western


Is it actually cheaper to buy beef from a farmer or a grocery store?

Jan 14, 2017

Depending on the type, age, and finish of the animal that you are buying meat from, the total amount will vary, but below is a recent example of actual cuts yielded from a heifer in January, 2017.

One yearling feeder heifer yielded 365lb meat/side or 182lb/quarter. This is the HANGING WEIGHT, and what the butcher bases their costs on and what farmers base their price on. Once the meat is cut and wrapped to a customer’s specific requests, the resulting meat will weigh less, about 60-65% less to be exact, after excess bones, fat and other trim has been removed. This is referred to as the DRESSED WEIGHT. When you buy meat in the grocery store, you pay by the pound of dressed weight. When you buy from a farmer, you pay by pound of hanging weight. But doesn’t that mean I pay for material we don’t even eat? Below are some calculations that demonstrate even by paying on a hanging weight, you save $280+ compared to purchasing your meat in individual packages in a store.

Each butcher is different, but a relatively consistent fee that we have seen from the butcher we use is approximately $250/quarter for cutting and wrapping… it will cost more for specific cuts like making patties or tenderizing cutlets.

You can choose to cut and wrap meat in any way, and below is just one example of how you can specify cuts.  You will see that there are few round roasts but lots of round steak, because that is how I chose to have it cut. I also didn’t choose any cutlets or stew meat, but you can. You’ll may also notice that I had steaks cut into rib steaks and tenderloin (because tenderloin is THE BEST!) instead of T-bone and porterhouse steaks, but you could choose differently.

In this example, this quarter (a split half of front and hind quarters) yielded the following:

Buy Individually from Superstore* Buy Split Side From a Farmer
70 lb ground beef @ $4.99/lb = $349.30 182 lb x $2.55/lb current rail price = $464.10

You get 70lb ground beef, 2 pks sirloin steak, 2 pk rib steak, 1 cross-rib roast, 2 round roasts, 1 tip roast, 1 sirloin cap, 3 pk round steak, 2pk striploin, 3 pk tenderloin

2 pk sirloin steak (4 per pk) = 9lb x $6.80/lb = $61.20
2 pk rib steak (4 per pk) = 9lb x $16.33/lb = $146.97
1 – 4 lb cross-rib roast = 4lb x $6.48/lb = $25.92
2 – 4 lb round roasts = 8lb x $7.99/lb = $63.92
1 – tip roast = 4lb x $4.26 = $17.04
1 – sirloin cap = 1.5lb x $11.34/lb = $17.01 Cut and wrap at butchers = $250
3 pk round steak (1.75 lb per pk) = 5.25lb x $6.80/lb = $35.70
2 pk striploin (2 lb each) = 4lb x $13.60/lb = $54.40
3 pk tenderloin (1.75lb each) = 5.25lb x $43.35 = $227.59
TOTAL = $999.05 GROCERY STORE PRICE TOTAL = $714.10 LOCAL FARMER PRICE

*Accessed prices January 14, 2017 from Superstore Canada

If you buy the beef piece by piece at the store, you will end up paying $999.05 for the same product, when you could save $284.95 by purchasing beef by the quarter from a local farmer! In addition to the savings, you will have the convenience of having a freezer full of beef for your entire family to enjoy for six months or even a year, depending on how much beef you consume.

Purchasing a quarter of beef at once is a large investment, but it is one that will save you a lot of money and time in a year!

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