Lamb prices soar, butcher battles to remain competitive
FEWER people will honour the tradition of eating lamb this Australia Day because the price of the meat has skyrocketed.
Daly's Meats owner Peter O'Connor said prices were the highest he'd seen in his 10 years owning the Clinton butcher.
Mr O'Connor has started selling lamb in bulk packs, which allows him to offer a discount and remain competitive against the supermarket giants.
"It's difficult because you have to maintain competition to survive," Mr O'Connor said.
The Meat and Livestock Australia said in its sheep projects released this month, lamb and mutton prices were expected to stay high this year because of strong international demand.
"Consumer demand for lamb has been strong, with exports hitting record highs in 2017 at 251,000 tonnes cwt (carcase weight) as well as maintaining domestic consumption levels despite increases in average retail prices," market intelligence manager Scott Tolmie said.
"While lamb exports are expected to draw back slightly in 2018 to 244,000 tonnes swt (shipped weight), this is still four per cent above the five-year average."
Mr O'Connor said supermarket giants were selling some cuts, including lamb leg roasts, cheaper than what he could buy from a farmer. "This is where quality of the product and service really comes into it," he said.
"You have individual attention when you go to a butcher, whereas at Coles and Woolies you're looking at a shelf and you're lucky to talk to anyone."
Mr O'Connor said pork and beef were popular buys for Australia Day this year.
As for what Mr O'Connor will eat on Australia Day, it's likely to be a new recipe for beef ribs.
"I did see something on TV about pocket beef ribs on the barbecue. It has a pocket that you can put your fillings in, like olives and mushrooms ... I'm thinking about trying that this year," he said.