Woolworths and Coles: Supermarkets cut beef price

SHANNON TWOMEY, The Weekly Times January 31, 2017

RETAIL beef prices have started to drop since peaking in line with record saleyard cattle prices last year.

Beef sold by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths is up to 22 per cent cheaper than last year’s peak, with consumers paying $1-$4/kg less.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator has fallen to 651c/kg, from August’s high of 725c/kg.

Coles’ porterhouse steak is now $30/kg, down from $34/kg, scotch fillet steak is $33/kg, down from $37/kg, and three-star beef mince, which jumped from $5/kg to $9/kg last year, is now $7/kg.

Woolworths’ MSA beef rump steak has dropped from $23.99/kg to $20/kg and premium mince beef has dropped from $13.99/kg to $13/kg.

A Coles spokesman said the supermarket had been cutting prices for the past seven months, while a Woolworths spokesman said the supermarket last year reduced prices for beef corned silverside, mince and burger meat.

Neither supermarket would say if it was absorbing beef cattle prices in order to sell beef at cheaper rates.

But butchers have yet to drop prices.

Yarra Valley butcher Sam Failla said he had not dropped the price of his beef.

“Cattle prices are much the same as they have been and my beef prices are $3-4/kg dearer than this time last year, so beef isn’t exactly walking out the door,” Mr Failla said.

“Chicken is still the most popular meat I sell, followed by pork.”

According to Meat and Livestock Australia, consumers won’t face further price rises in beef prices in the near future, with the national cattle herd set to increase, tempering saleyard prices.

The Australian cattle herd is expected to increase for the first time in three years, rising 3 per cent year-on-year to 26.9 million.

MLA market information manager Ben Thomas said the cattle market would start to feel the impact of the herd increase as the year progressed.

“Once beef production slowly starts increasing again, there will be some downward pressure on prices in the Australian cattle market,” Mr Thomas said.