Retail beef prices are tipped to rise as world demand severely cuts this country's supplies.
Domestic meat supplies normally dwindle in spring but Beef+Lamb New Zealand says this year may be the worst.
The industry group is warning beef products could very shortly cost more because retailers will no longer absorb price increases.
The group's chief executive, Rod Slater, said the beef shortage and price rises behind the scenes have been going on for some weeks.
"There's fierce competition out there between retailers and they don't want to be first to move in terms of increasing prices.
"But at the end of the day they can only absorb so much if the demand is such that beef prices keep going up the way they are then we will see some rise in prices at consumer end."
Mr Slater says there is heavy demand from the United States for grinding meat, which goes into products such as hamburgers, and New Zealand is having to compete.