THE average retail price of beef during 2017 remained at the record levels set in 2016 and brings to the fore the question of just how high might be too high for red meat.
Last week in this column the high price of retail lamb was discussed, but it seems the beef market is also on a healthy run across Australia.
In fact, fresh beef sales account for 36 per cent of the retail fresh meat value share according to Meat and Livestock Australia’s Cattle Industry Projections which were released this month.
MLAs figures were based on research from AC Nielson Homescan and indicate the next closest meat to beef was chicken at 26pc.
Lamb shared the third/fourth place with pork, both on 13pc of fresh meat value share.
Australians are one of the largest per capita consumers of beef in the world MLA said, even though the consumption of beef had been tracking sideways since the 1990s.
During the past three years there had been an even sharper drop off in beef consumption and MLA linked this directly with the lift in retail beef prices.
“Consumer research is showing that as the retail price of red meat has trended upwards since 2013, consumers increasingly claim price to be the main reason for eating less red meat, above health or animal welfare/ environment concerns,” the MLA report said.
Beef's pricing relative to chicken brings into sharp focus the competitive pricing pressure its confronted with.
MLA figures indicate beef prices in the past 17 years have almost doubled, while chicken rose only 12pc.
At the same time, Australia’s aging population had also been sighted as a challenge for beef consumption.
That’s because it’s claimed older Aussies eat less red meat due to “health/functional/price reasons”.
Our demographic was also shifting. ABS data indicated more than a quarter of Australia's residents were now born overseas and for the first time in Australia's history, most of these people born abroad were from Asia (where pork was the prominent protein) rather than Europe.