Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: April 24, 2022

Brisket is traditionally seen as a relatively inexpensive cut of meat and one that is less desirable due to the potential toughness inherent in the cut.

You may have noticed that the price of brisket has increased dramatically, and it can no longer be considered economical! Our market research has revealed the main reasons for the increase in brisket prices.

Quick Summary

  • What can you expect to pay for brisket?
  • What has caused brisket to become more expensive so quickly?
  • Brisket has a limited supply, and not all brisket is suitable for smoking or BBQ.
  • Various market sectors are increasing their demand for brisket.

From being considered a poor man's cut of meat, the brisket has been elevated to almost celebrity-like status in the meat smoking and BBQ world. The sudden rise to fame, combined with restricted supply, has further limited the availability! Let's take a look at how brisket made this leap in our modern culture!

How Much Does Brisket Cost?

Brisket meat in a tight plastic

Brisket has seen a significant increase in price over the years.

The increase is such that it can no longer be considered a cheap cut of meat.

The price of brisket will vary depending on the quality of the meat, but you can brace yourself to pay anywhere from $8 to $10 per pound.

Prime grade brisket can cost even more than this due to the higher quality of the meat and the more extensive marbling [1].

Prime grade brisket can cost even more than this due to the higher quality of the meat and the more extensive marbling [1].

The price of brisket has seen an increase in price from between 30% to 40% in a relatively short time, which is significant in any market.

The price for smoked brisket in a restaurant can be anywhere from $30 per pound upwards. What has caused this sudden spike in brisket prices?

Why Has The Price For Brisket Increased?

Raw pork brisket on cutting board

As with most commodities, the price of brisket is related to supply and demand, but many factors influence the available supply and the market demand for the cut. We will examine some of the main issues that have resulted in a dramatic increase in brisket prices [2].

1. Brisket Has A Limited Supply

One of the largest contributing aspects to the increase in price for brisket is the fact that there are only 2 briskets per cow.

Another contributing factor is that the brisket from every cow is different. Some are not suitable for the restaurant or smoking industry because they are not meaty enough or as well developed.

When most customers buy a brisket, they buy an entire brisket, not a portion of the brisket. Consequently, one cow can only supply two customers with brisket.

In days gone by when brisket was not a popular meat cut, butchers would cut the brisket up into smaller portions, which would allow more customers to be supplied with the meat.

The change in the way the market uses brisket has seen a shift in the way customers purchase the cut, which is now usually the entire brisket.

2. The Price For Beef Has Increased Across The Board

Raw beef brisket on pan

Brisket is not the only cut of beef that has seen an increase in price.

Beef, in general, has seen an increase in prices to the consumer for several reasons.

Recent environmental conditions, such as drought and viral lockdowns, have impacted beef farming significantly [3].

Many of the main beef producing regions have experienced severe drought, which has resulted in a reduction of herd sizes and consequently restricted the supply of beef.

Farmers' production costs have also increased, making it more expensive to raise the cattle to slaughter age.

The increased costs to raise the cattle are an expense that is passed on to the consumer.

3. Increase In Demand For Brisket

A meat of brisket on a black marble table

Increased Interest In Backyard Smoking

There has been an upsurge in the popularity of backyard meat smoking over recent years. The production of easy-to-use smokers and simple methods to monitor the temperature of the meat has made this process accessible to more people.

Consequently, there has been a recent significant increase in the number of people actively participating in smoking meat at home. Since a well-smoked brisket is considered the pinnacle of meat smoking prowess, the popularity of brisket in the meat smoking community has increased dramatically.

Fast-Food Market Demand For Brisket

Brisket has other demands in the market besides BBQ or smoking purposes. Historically brisket is the preferred cut for producing hamburger meat.

The proliferation of fast-food vendors has increased the demand for quality hamburger meat. This has placed additional demand for brisket on the meat suppliers.

Considering there are only 2 briskets on each cow, you can quickly see how the fast-food market can impact the demand for this meat and push the prices to new heights.

Demand For Brisket By Upmarket Restaurants

Freshly cooked briskets

The increase in the popularity of brisket in the general population has seen brisket being included on the menu of upmarket restaurants.

Previously, these restaurants would not have considered including brisket as an offering for their clientele because it was seen as a cheap cut of meat. Brisket also takes a long time to cook or smoke to a tender, juicy meal.

The increase in demand for BBQ or smoked brisket among their patrons has seen upmarket restaurants including these meals on their menu and charging high prices.

This has increased the demand pressure on beef suppliers for brisket.

Cultural Dishes Using Brisket

Many cultures use brisket as a traditional dish, which stems from the days when brisket was a cheap, affordable cut of meat.

These affordable meals using brisket have become integral parts of the culture of the communities where this meal became a staple offering.

The Jewish immigrant community is one such cultural group where brisket has become integral to their traditions.

The BBQ States Impact On Brisket Demand

In some US states, BBQ and smoking meat is seen as a national pastime and has become integral in the culture of the populations of these regions.

States such as Texas and Missouri are two such states where BBQ and smoking competitions and festivals attest to the popularity of outdoor cooking in these populations.

Brisket is a popular cut of meat to use in both grilling and smoking in these states. The demand contributes to the overall shortage of brisket along with the increasing demand from other market sectors.

Competition For Brisket Supply

Raw brisket top view on a paper bag

With the high demand for brisket and some big-money consumers who have the buying power to buy in bulk, not much of the supply is left available for the average consumer.

As a result, brisket is becoming increasingly rare for individual consumers at the supermarket shelf or the local butcher.

So not only is the brisket becoming difficult to find in the shops when you do find it, you are expected to pay a premium price.

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Conclusion

Brisket will remain a popular cut of meat for smoking and BBQ, but as outdoor cooks, we may have come to terms with the idea that brisket is more likely to be a rare treat rather than a frequent contender in your backyard smoker.

The best way to source a brisket at a better price is to make contact with a local beef farmer and try to buy direct or with a local butcher who can reserve the cut for you when it comes in.

If you do not have easy access to a local source, you can try a meat delivery service company like ButcherBox.


 References:

  1. http://www.clarionfarms.com/cuts-and-pricing
  2. https://www.wsj.com/articles/brisket-was-cheap-and-delicious-now-its-expensive-and-you-have-to-wait-in-line-1423180291
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/18/why-have-beef-prices-gone-up.html

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