A dwindling number of cattle and growing export demand have tightened the supply and caused the average retail cost of fresh beef to climb to $US5.28 ($A5.63) a pound in February – 24 cents higher than January.
Prices likely will stay high for a couple of years as cattle producers start to rebuild their herds. Those in the in the southwest and midwest will need enough rain to replenish parched pastures.
Some shoppers are turning to chicken or pork, though those prices are on the rise as well.
Some independent restaurants have hiked their menu prices or switched to smaller steaks.
An economics professor says chain restaurants combat the price spike by buying in bulk.