Beef Demand Drives Higher Prices

NEW YORK - Wholesale beef and veal prices rose 18.3 percent in October -- the biggest one-month increase since 1974, according to a Department of Labor report released on Friday.

Experts told Reuters that the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet, which encourage dieters to eat less bread and pasta in favor of protein-rich foods like beef, likely played a part in the uptick, although it's hard to estimate the extent of their influence.

Other factors are also pushing beef prices higher, however. In May, the United States banned cattle imports from Canada after a mad-cow scare, which has fueled a 30 percent increase in cattle futures since July, according to the Reuters report.

Also in May, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association launched a large marketing blitz meant to highlight the nutritional benefits of beef.

Tyson Foods Inc., the nation's largest meat company, said this week that increased beef sales helped boost its earnings 75 percent last quarter.
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