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ARLINGTON, Va. — Firing up the grill for burgers or beef kebobs will cost servicemembers and their families a bit more this summer as beef prices rise in military commissaries.

The price of beef sold at military commissaries mirrors U.S. prices, which are on the rise, said Florence Dunn, spokeswoman for the Defense Commissary Agency.

The boost in U.S. market prices for beef comes from high demands driven by a recovering economy, increasingly popular high-protein/low carb diets, and falling production levels of beef, said Larry Salathe, senior economist with the Department of Agriculture.

The soaring cost of fuel has added only slightly to the higher retail prices, Salathe said.

“There’s not much in bringing beef to the retail stores, so transportation costs are not a big percent of the retail price.”

The U.S. beef supply has steadily decreased over the past several years because of severe droughts in the Southwest and West, and ranchers thinning their herds, Salathe said.

“We’re forecasting fairly steady prices, but prices that are historically quite [high],” Salathe said. “For the producer side, it’s a good thing. For the consumer side, it’s not so good.

“While there is ample supply of beef available, it’s at a [higher] price than what consumers would typically see.”

In April, retail beef prices climbed in most categories, association figures showed.

For example, ground chuck increased to $2.49 a pound from $2.21 in April 2003; boneless round steak, $4.06 a pound, up from $3.74; boneless sirloin steak, $6.61 a pound, up from $4.58. Boneless chuck roast dropped to $3.23 from $3.40.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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