Montreal's classic sandwich costs more lately—a lot more. Beef brisket prices have almost doubled in the last two years and, with them, the price of your standard smoked meat sandwich at the likes of Smoke Meat Pete, Dunn's Famous and Schwartz's. "We should be selling the smoked meat sandwich for $13, $14 a sandwich in order for us to be in our ideal food cost," Dunn's owner Elliot Kligman tells the CBC. The problem, reports the news outlet, began "with low beef prices in Canada from 2003 to 2010, which eventually led to the size of the Canadian herd being reduced by a quarter. At the same time, drought and a lack of feed in other countries led to major herd reductions globally. Just as global beef production became stagnant, there was a sudden sharp increase in demand."
That demand has not abated, however, despite the fact that before taxes a sandwich (with half a pound of brisket, typically) now costs $8.50 at Smoke Meat Pete (in suburban Île Perrot), $9.35 at Schwartz's and $10 at Dunn's. By way of comparison, a 16.2-ounce, or one-pound, pastrami sandwich at Katz's in New York presently costs $19.75 (USD). "It hasn’t affected sales. Honestly I’m surprised. I’ve had one customer complain, but that’s it. I can’t say we’ve gotten hurt," Kligman declares. None of this is new, of course. Schwartz's was forced to raise smoked meat sandwich prices from $6.65 to $7.65 last April. General manager Frank Silva told Eater at the time that "the reality is that the price of beef has gone up 50% in the last several months. And in fact, the price will rise even more [in the weeks to come]."
Silva went on to allege that "a lot of Schwartz's so-called competition weighs their meat—that's something we've never done and will never do—and I know they're skimping on their sandwiches now. Bigger bread, less meat. And they'll probably get away with it too!"