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‘Doesn’t pass the pub test’: Red meat prices at Coles and Woolies still too high, minister says


Coles and Woolworths have been urged to reduce the price of red meat in the lead-up to Christmas, with the federal government warning that Australians are still paying too much for beef mince and steak. A Senate inquiry into the "price gouging" of the supermarkets has been announced and the Nationals have called for the ACCC to hold an inquiry as well. The rapid plunge in prices came from a shift to dry weather, oversupply of animals in saleyards, and bottlenecks in the abattoir sector. Heavy rains have recently driven up cattle prices. It is argued that while supermarkets may be able to sustain low meat prices, independent local butchers may find it hard to compete. The Australian Meat Industry Council has noted that dropping retail prices won’t help the backlog of livestock in the system, and that meat processors deserve to make a profit. Coles and Woolworths have responded that while livestock prices have gone down, other costs in the supply chain have gone up, and that they pay more than the industry market indicators for beef.


What has the federal government warned Coles and Woolworths about in regards to red meat prices?
The federal government has warned Coles and Woolworths to further drop the price of red meat in the lead-up to Christmas, as it "doesn't pass the pub test" that Aussies are still paying up to $20 per kilo for beef mince and $15 for a steak.

How have Coles and Woolworths responded to the pressure to lower red meat prices?
Caving to growing political pressure, Woolworths and Coles announced they were dropping prices on some red meat products by more than 20 per cent.

What is the Senate set to do in regards to alleged price gouging by the supermarkets?
The Senate is this week expected to establish an inquiry examining alleged “price gouging” by the supermarkets.

What factors have led to the sudden collapse in red meat prices?
The rapid plunge in red meat prices came as farmers rushed to offload their animals in the face of a sudden shift to dry weather, leading to an oversupply of animals in saleyards, coupled with low producer demand as farmers were not restocking their herds. Bottlenecks in the abattoir sector and reduced saleyard demand for cattle from processors further drove down prices.

What does the Australian Meat Industry Council argue is the best way to alleviate the pressure on farmgate prices?
The Australian Meat Industry Council argues that the best way to alleviate the pressure on farmgate prices is to expand working processing capacity.

AI Comments

👍 This article provides a comprehensive overview of the complex and interconnected factors that have led to the current state of red meat prices. It is impressive how the author has managed to provide in-depth information on the supply chain and retail prices.

👎 The article does not offer any meaningful solutions to the current situation. It merely reiterates calls for supermarkets to drop their prices without providing any concrete solutions.

AI Discussion

Me: It's about red meat prices at Coles and Woolworths, and how the federal government is pushing for them to drop their prices further in the lead-up to Christmas. The article also talks about the Senate inquiry that is expected to take place in 2024 to examine alleged “price gouging” by the supermarkets, and the calls for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to hold an inquiry into meat prices.

Friend: Wow, that's interesting. What do you think the implications of this article are?

Me: I think the implications are twofold. On one hand, this article highlights the current situation of the red meat market and how prices have plummeted due to oversupply and a lack of demand. On the other hand, it also shows how supermarkets are able to take advantage of this situation by maintaining high prices despite the drop in livestock prices. This could have a detrimental effect on both producers and consumers, as producers are not getting the prices they deserve, and consumers are still having to pay high prices for their red meat. In addition, the article also further highlights the need for greater transparency in the supply chain, as well as the need for greater oversight of the supermarkets by the ACCC and other government bodies.

Action items

Technical terms

Pub Test
A colloquial phrase used to describe a situation or decision that is judged to be fair and reasonable by the general public.
To give in to pressure or demands.
Price Gouging
Charging an unreasonably high price for goods or services.
A farmer who buys animals to build their own herd.
Feedlot Operator
A business that buys animals to fatten them for slaughter.
Meat Processor
A business that buys animals for slaughter.
El Nino
A climate pattern that occurs when sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator become unusually warm.
Indian Ocean Dipole
A climate pattern that occurs when sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean near the equator become unusually warm.
Young calves.
Feeder Steers
Young cattle.
Lamb Cutlets
A cut of lamb that is cut from the rib section of the animal.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

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