Those Memorial Day burgers will cost more this year

Hamburger (Valeria Boltneva/Pexels photo)

Get ready for more expensive Memorial Day burgers and hot dogs this year.

Grocery prices have been going up across the board because of disruptions to the supply chain and the spike in people eating at home during the pandemic. Meat, especially, has come under pressure after major processing facilities slowed or shut down because of worker illness. That pressure won't ease up before the holiday — and other prices are staying high, as well.

Prices continue to soar

The average unit price of fresh beef in retail rose 11.9% during the week ending May 9 compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen. For processed meat, the spike was a tick lower at 11.6%. And for fresh chicken, the increase was 7.5%.

At Stew Leonard's, a grocery chain with locations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, consumers should expect to pay more for meat this year.

"Those are definitely going to be higher than they were last year," said CEO and president Stew Leonard Jr. He added that these days, a pound of fresh ground beef goes for about $5.99 a pound compared to $3.99 a pound before the pandemic.

Avi Kaner, co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarkets, said that he's had to pay about $3 to $5 more per pound for each cut of meat because of disruptions to the supply chain.

It's not unusual to see meat prices go up before Memorial Day, he said, because of the spike in demand. But usually the increase is lower, under $1 per pound. In those cases, retailers usually just absorb the cost and leave retail prices the same. But this time, the higher prices are trickling down to Morton Williams customers.