Retail prices are up 10% per kilogram compared to this time last year, according to Meat and Livestock Australia, the meat industry’s marketing and research authority.
Despite operating in the heart of Western Australia’s cattle heartland, Josh Liebeck, owner of Plantagenet Meats in Mount Barker, four hours south of Perth, claimed he had to raise his prices even higher.
“We sold [beef sausages] for $10.99 a kilo eighteen months ago, and now we’re selling them for $15.99 a kilo,” he said.
“We’ve seen some fantastic growing conditions and that’s off the back of a couple of years drought, or some of the worst drought that we’ve seen in recent history, which resulted in a liquidation of our herd,” he said.
While the price increase is likely to be difficult for consumers to accept, cattle producers are benefiting from their largest windfall in years. “It was because of the year that we have had, of such good rain.”
Alida Parke, who farms near Lake Muir, 350 kilometers south of Perth, sold 90 weaner steers for an average of $2,200 each in January.
“I sold my weaners, or some of my weaners, at just eight months old [weighing 395kg-420kg] this year, which was a first for me… which was incredible, “she stated
The assistant manager of the Mount Barker Regional Saleyards, Erica Henderson, said she had never seen prices so good.
“Over those last couple of years producers have decided to hold on to their cattle to grow their herd and put less animals through to processors, which means that there is a contraction in supply, or pressure on supply, which has an upward impact on prices.”
“I’ve lived here for 12 years, and costs have steadily increased over the last 18 months. This year, producers should make a lot of money “she stated
The weather, according to Scott Cameron, a strategist for Meat and Livestock Australia, has had a significant role in driving up meat prices.