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Cookouts Will Cost More This Year. Here’s Why

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Last year’s drought in the Midwest is impacting cookouts this summer as high corn prices raise the cost of beef for the grill, according to one weather expert.

"Suppliers use corn to feed the livestock, and of course the cost of corn has gone up significantly directly because of the drought last year," said Paul Walsh, vice president of weather analytics at The Weather Channel.

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"The result is that they actually went into 2013 thinning their herds," said Walsh, who noted that herds are the smallest they’ve been in 60 years. "Demand has stayed constant, supply has gone down, therefore the price has gone up," Walsh said.

Every year, demand for beef spikes in the spring and summer, around Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But as a result of higher beef prices, Americans could be more likely to choose chicken over beef this grilling season, Walsh said.

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Last month, the average retail price of a pound of ground beef cost $3.27, while chicken legs, for example, cost $1.54 per pound on average, according to the USDA.

Better-than-expected corn yields could temper beef prices going into 2014, Walsh said.

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