Does Walmart Sell USDA Prime Beef?

Walmart is the largest retailer in the world with over 10000 stores across 27 countries. With its massive size and buying power, Walmart can offer customers very low prices on a huge assortment of products – everything from groceries to clothing to outdoor equipment. When it comes to groceries, Walmart has a extensive selection of fresh produce, pantry staples, frozen foods, and meat and seafood. This includes a variety of beef options, from ground beef to steaks. However, one question shoppers often have is whether Walmart sells USDA prime beef, which is the highest quality grade.

What is USDA Prime Beef?

USDA prime beef comes from young, well-fed beef cattle. Only about 2-3% of all beef produced in the United States receives the “prime” grade. To qualify, the beef must have ample marbling, which refers to the white specks of fat interspersed between the muscles. This marbling ensures tenderness and excellent flavor. Prime cuts like ribeye, tenderloin, and strip steaks are exceptionally juicy and delicious when cooked properly.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) assigns quality grades to beef based on its tenderness juiciness and flavor. The top three grades are prime, choice, and select. Below prime, choice beef still provides great taste and tenderness. Select has less marbling than prime and choice, but is still of satisfactory quality. Grades below select include standard and commercial beef, which have much less marbling.

Why Don’t Most Stores Sell USDA Prime Beef?

There are a few key reasons why prime beef is not readily available at most grocery stores:

  • Supply – With only 2-3% of beef graded as prime, there is a very limited supply. Selling prime beef requires sourcing from specialty purveyors rather than large commercial suppliers.

  • Cost – Prime beef can cost about 25% more than choice cuts of equal quality. For large retailers selling high volumes of beef, the markup on prime is often not worth the lower turnover.

  • Regional Preferences – Preferences for quality grades of beef vary regionally. Some areas have lower demand for prime beef compared to choice or select.

  • Lack of Differentiation – Many customers are not knowledgeable about the USDA grading system. Retailers often don’t see the upside in stocking pricier prime beef since customers may not understand the difference.

For these reasons, most grocery chains focus on selling choice beef, with select beef also available at lower price points. Prime beef is reserved for high-end butcher shops, specialty grocers, and fine dining restaurants where customers appreciate the superior flavor and premium quality.

Does Walmart Sell USDA Prime Beef?

The short answer is no – Walmart does not stock USDA prime beef cuts in their regular meat cases. However, there are a few important caveats:

  • Walmart does carry Angus beef, which is often confused with prime. Angus simply means the cattle breed – it does not denote quality grade. Angus beef at Walmart is usually choice grade.

  • Some Walmart locations may occasionally have USDA prime beef due to regional inventory differences. But it is extremely uncommon and not advertised in weekly circulars.

  • Walmart offers specialty “Black Angus” and “Reserve” steaks in the butcher case at some stores. These are proprietary brands, not USDA graded. They are likely equivalent to high-choice.

  • During holidays like Christmas, Walmart sometimes stocks fresh prime rib roasts. But these are seasonal offerings, not regular inventory.

  • Prime ribeyes and other cuts can be specially ordered at the butcher counter in some Walmart locations. Availability depends on the supplier network of the individual store.

Price Differences Between Prime, Choice, and Select

To understand why most stores don’t stock expensive prime beef, it helps to look at price differences:

  • Prime ribeye – $18-$25 per pound

  • Choice ribeye – $13-$17 per pound

  • Select ribeye – $10-$15 per pound

As you can see, prime commands a significant premium over choice, even for an identical cut. And choice is pricier than select while offering a similar eating experience for most customers.

At Walmart, 80% lean ground beef costs around $5 per pound, regardless of whether it is labeled choice or select. Ribeyes range from $10-14 per pound – but these are choice grade. For Walmart shoppers looking for value and convenience, prime is not sufficiently differentiated to justify the enormous price premium.

Alternatives for Finding Prime Beef

If you have your heart set on prime steaks or roasts, here are some alternative retailers to check instead of Walmart:

  • Costco – Many Costco stores sell prime beef at lower markups than premium grocery stores. Packages are large though.

  • Whole Foods – Whole Foods has prime beef cuts behind the butcher counter at competitive prices. Inventory varies.

  • Local Butcher Shops – Independent butchers work directly with purveyors to access prime beef for regular stock.

  • Online Retailers – Online specialty stores like Snake River Farms and Porter Road ship prime steaks overnight.

While prime beef may be out of the price range for many families, choice grade still provides great taste and tenderness. By understanding the USDA grading system, you can better judge the quality of beef regardless of where you shop. And if you have an important occasion coming up, seek out prime through a specialty retailer or butcher.

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How do I get USDA prime beef?

If you desire top quality steaks for your next party or family get together, there are many high end grocery stores, such as Albertson’s and Costco, which carry USDA Prime beef.

Is USDA prime beef worth it?

PRIME BEEF It has a higher content of marbling with great yield. This is everything you could want, it is what all cattle ranchers dream of having. You will find Prime in higher-end steak houses or higher-tiered grocery stores. Only 5-6 percent of all beef will be graded prime, showing how hard it is to achieve.

Which is better Angus or USDA prime?

Since Angus is a breed and USDA Prime is a grade of beef it’s not a “this vs that” comparison. Angus beef can be graded as USDA Prime but could also grade as “Choice” or “Select.” Beef sourced from Angus cattle is often high quality, but diet, genetics, and handling practices all contribute to the final product.

Who does Walmart get their beef from?

Walmart sources beef from a variety of suppliers, including large-scale industrial farms, regional suppliers, and, in some cases, local farms. The specific sources can vary based on factors such as location, product availability, and the scale of Walmart’s operations in a particular region.

Does Walmart have a beef standard?

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, raised its house beef standard from “Select” to “Choice”—the second best of all eight USDA beef grades—which is nothing to sneeze at. (Besides the three well-known retail grades—Prime, Choice, and Select—the USDA identifies five more: “Standard,” “Commercial,” “Cutter,” “Utility,” and “Canner.”

Where can I buy prime beef?

Unfortunately prime beef is only available in small quantities to grocers like Wegmans or Whole Foods Market due to low demand due to its premium price. But the best nationwide grocer for steaks is Whole Foods. However, it’s not quite that simple. After all, there are so many different kinds of cuts, gradings, aging, and much more.

Can you buy prime beef from a dairy cow?

You can buy Prime beef that comes from a dairy cow slaughtered at 12 months and given antibiotics and growth hormones and fed quickly, or you can buy meat from naturally raised beef-breed cattle that was fed for 120-plus days, never given drugs, and slaughtered at a more flavorful 24 months, and that’s also Prime.

Does Walmart have grass-fed beef?

Those who prefer 100% grass-fed, grass-finished meat are also in luck, with many more products on the market. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, raised its house beef standard from “Select” to “Choice”—the second best of all eight USDA beef grades—which is nothing to sneeze at.

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