Are you paying too much for meat?

Are supermarkets once again taking us for a ride with meat prices?

You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice that prices at saleyards have plummeted in the past six months.

A combination of overstocking due to the past two good years and farmers destocking ahead of an expected drought has resulted in an explosion of stock onto the market.

According to Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), total lamb yardings lifted by 82,095 to 309,714 head. That’s a lot of lamb roasts.

Slaughter levels for cattle were the highest they’ve been since 2020.

There are reports of some animals being sold for $1 and even being given away.

However, this dramatic fall in prices is not trickling down to the retail level.

Retail lamb prices have fallen a bit, chicken and pork has been relatively cheap for a while, but beef prices are still high.

It’s estimated the price of beef has fallen only about 8 per cent.

So what’s happening?

Part of the price problem is that animal protein is expensive to get from the paddock to the plate.

Fruit and vegies can be picked, prepared for market, put into trucks and sent to the supermarket or markets.

There are costs involved in picking, storage and delivery, but it’s a relatively simple supply chain.

It’s not that simple for meat.

Retailers buy animals, then they must be stored and fed before slaughter; there are slaughter costs, packaging costs and then delivery costs. And for much of the supply chain, the products must be chilled – all within a tight time frame.

Those prices do not fluctuate according to the price of the raw product. Stock handling and slaughterhouse staff must still be paid, feed must be bought, and stock and chiller trucks still have to have petrol and drivers regardless of what farmers are getting paid in the saleyards.

MLA managing director Jason Strong told the ABC that everyone takes a cut along the way.

“It wouldn’t be unusual for a cow or calf producer to sell that calf to a backgrounder, who might sell it to a feedlot, who sells it to a processor, who might sell it to a wholesaler, who ultimately sells it to a retailer,” he said.

“It’s not unusual to have five or six spots along the supply chain.” 

Do I think the supermarkets are overpricing meat? Yes, probably, but that’s the problem with having a duopoly.

However, I also think most people are unaware of the costs involved in the meat supply chain, which do not change regardless of the price at the saleyards.

What’s the solution?

There is no one solution to the high cost of meat. Your options are to cut back on red meat, find a cheaper supplier or see if you can buy in bulk from a butcher.

Back in my childhood, my mother regularly bought a side of lamb from the local butcher and that lasted us months.

Unfortunately, while there may be a dip in meat prices over the next few months, with the rate at which farmers are destocking you can expect to pay much more in future as supply tightens up.

This week’s best deals


Sensible: Broad Oak Farms whole chickens, $3.39/kg. This price is so sensible your mum is going to adopt it and send it a Christmas card. Buy two and keep one in the freezer at this price.

Indulgence: Bundaberg Spiced Ginger Beer, four pack, $5.99. This is fast becoming a cult item. Great for Christmassy drinks, so start your Christmas stash now.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Cheer cheese 500g block, $8.45, save $2.45. Everyone seems to have calmed down about the name change so time to forget about your personal ban and get back into this great Australian product.

Indulgence: Schick Hydro five razor kit, half price $8.75. Excellent price for what can be an expensive purchase. Double your feel-goods knowing that 50c will be donated to men’s health with every purchase. Coles will use this as a tax break, but, hey, every bit helps.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Golden Crumpets, half price $2.20. Woolworths is making a liar out of me when I regularly point out that these are only on sale during winter. Best eaten with so much butter it drips out the bottom.

Indulgence: Premium butcher-style sausages, six pack, $8, save $1. Handy to have in the freezer for nights where effort is trumped by the inability to care. I mean, who doesn’t like sausages? Easy peasy meal.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Nanna’s Fruit Pies, $4.40, save $1.10. When was the last time you made an apple pie from scratch? Yeah, I thought so. Not as good as an actual nanna’s pie, but, then again, what is?

Indulgence: Kettle Potato Chip varieties, half price $3.30. Once upon a time I would not have put chips in the indulgence section, but have you seen the price of chips lately? Half price seems more like what they should cost.

See the catalogue here.

Have you cut back on meat? Do you think it’s overpriced? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: The best cheap cuts of meat

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. I think it is overpriced .
    I’m also against people overseas paying a more reasonable price for Aussie beef and other products that I cannot afford at home . I’m retired so I can afford to shop around .So many great flavours can be had just cooking vegetables . Meat can easily be replaced with any amount of alternatives

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