Higher Meat Prices Eat At Catering Profits

It was a busy December for Calvin Coleman's restaurant and catering service.

"It's the best month for us," he said from his kitchen. "About 25% of our entire year's revenue is in the month of December."

That's a good thing, because last month was also an expensive month for caterers.

"Beef prices have almost doubled in some instances," he said. "And that's a big hit to the bottom line when you're a caterer or a small restaurant like us."

Coleman didn't think he should pass the additional beef costs onto his clients. So his catering service ate the extra bills.

"Some of the commitments we had made were made anywhere from six to nine months in advance," he explained. "And those prices that we set were already contracted. So then when beef prices raised the way they did, we had no choice but to go ahead and honor those contracts."

Coleman isn't the only caterer who's felt the price pinch on beef products. Suzanne Guice runs the Redding House.

"We definitely noticed it in December when we were busier and we had lunches and dinners that were serving steaks," she said.

The 96 year old downtown Biloxi home hosts a variety of weddings and receptions. As a matter of fact, Guice's crew was cleaning the two story complex for a Saturday night wedding.

Redding House caterers have struggled just a bit with the added costs for prime rib and filet mignon.

"I mean when you see the beef prices go up above $20 a pound, and you have a $20 luncheon menu, it's a little challenging there," she said.

So what will caterers do if beef prices don't come down to more appetizing levels?

"Our answer is, I don't know," said Coleman. "I can't tell you that. What we're offering is when we do the menus, and then we offer beef as a side dish to be determined later."

Guice had a similar answer about how to pay for the more expensive beef.

"We're going to stick with it the way it is," she said. "We're not going to change our pricing for now. We'll see. We'll see how it goes."

According to experts, beef prices are soaring because of supply and demand. The Adkins diet encourages people to eat meat. Since so many people are trying that diet, demand is skyrocketing, and supply is shrinking.