Business: Moneyburgers

Beef jumps over the moon

In 1976 and 1977 the price of coffee soared; in 1978 lettuce briefly hit $1 a head. The next food to go wild will apparently be the hamburger.

Because ranchers have been reducing their herds (down from 132 million cattle to 111 million in the past four years), beef production in 1979 will decrease from 24.3 billion lbs. to 23.1 billion. That means, as President Richard Lyng of the American Meat Institute warned last week, that the price of hamburger could go up by 40¢ to 50¢ per lb. and reach as much as $1.80 by early summer.

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