Calling it a pre-Christmas gift as the high cost of living continues to assail cash-strapped consumers, one Australian supermarket giant has slashed the price of some of their lamb products.
Just two months after cutting prices on hundreds of other items, Woolworths has confirmed they will be reducing the price of 26 of their lamb products by 20% and it is expected that other retailers will soon be following suit.
Farmers battling a significant slump in sheep prices say supermarkets are ripping off consumers, as Woolworths announces it will cut its lamb prices by 20 per cent. https://t.co/IIv15Ws7Uu
— ABC News (@abcnews) November 6, 2023
This means that the price of a leg of lamb will fall from $10 per kilogram to $8 per kilogram.
While consumers will be excited about the prospect of a delicious and more affordable leg of lamb on the Christmas table this year, ABC News reported that the move has done little to address farmer and industry concerns about the ongoing issues within Australia’s market and supply chain.
CEO of the Australian Meat Industry Council Patrick Hutchinson explains that the decision was probably made because of an over supply of stock.
He also attributed the oversupply to the low prices farmers have been getting for their live weight animals with some getting less than $1 per kilogram for their lamb at the saleyards.
“In a competitive market, other organisations, including our members, the ever-reliable local independent butcher, will be following suit as best as they can,” he said.
The well-known price discrepancy between what the consumer has been paying for lamb and what the farmer gets for his product has baffled the industry with social media followers expressing mixed reactions online:
The poor farmer is getting kicked in the guts again with all they got to do to get the product where it is to the end for selling dam Woollies
— george osis (@osis_george) November 6, 2023
The farmers have overproduced, the buyers are not playing fair and consumers have been seriously affected by price gouging! YES, THERE IS A GLUT – and farmers will start shooting sheep for landfill…**their logic** is all about $$$$ profits!
— Louise B (@BindieFL) November 6, 2023
The big supermarkets have been doing this for years at the cost of farmers and consumers. Most of the media won’t say anything because they will lose advertising dollars.
— Middle Child (@DPowell1900) November 6, 2023
Let’s not forget, the supermarkets need to make record profits while there’s a cost of living crisis…
The supermarkets are the problem.
Having said that, my butcher tried to charge me $30 for a bone ffs
— Andy Christmas (@AndyChristmas3) November 6, 2023
Speaking to ABC News, Western Australia farmer Bob Iffla said he currently receives approximately $1,10 per kilogram for his livestock.
“There is someone who is making a hell of a lot of money, and we are really, really battling out there and we need to get rid of as many sheep through the domestic market as possible,” he said.
He also intimated that consumers were not being treated fairly.
“I think they’re paying far, far too much for it, and I think it’s unfair for the price of living today,
“We’re getting virtually bloody nothing and they’re paying a lot.” he said.
In a similar vein, butchers have also been feeling the pinch. Also speaking to ABC News Western Australia butcher Josh Liebeck said it had been a difficult task explaining the high cost of lamb to his customers.
“They just have the questions of, they know the farmers are being paid not very much at the moment, so they always kind of wonder why retail prices are quite high,” he said.
“It’s hard when people don’t understand how difficult it is to run a business and to be profitable as well, and by profitable, I don’t mean we’re raking in millions of dollars.
“I mean, we’re turning over money enough to pay staff enough, to pay overheads and debts and things like that.”
Blame for the high cost of lamb in the supermarkets has also been laid at the feet of the meat processors but Hutchinson is quick to point out that they are also making up for previous losses.
“Processors have been trying to recoup some margin that they’ve lost when farmers were getting world-record prices in the same business model, with the same buyers, with the same sellers, at the same salary, and using the same transporters that they were getting 18 months ago,” he said.
He said when the price of lamb was high for farmers, processors struggled to manage costs while also dealing with labour shortages and high input costs.
Liebeck admitted that the cost of lamb had started falling and attributed the price issues to a combination of multiple factors.
“It’s such a complex issue. I don’t think it’s a matter of one individual person trying to do the wrong thing,” he said.
“I think multiple factors have come into play, and they’re causing this big disparity between price on-farm and price on the shelf.”