HomeFoodNationals call for an inquiry into meat prices, but here's why it...

Nationals call for an inquiry into meat prices, but here’s why it won’t fix anything

Politicians have entered the fight for national meat prices.

Nationals leader David Littleproud, who is the Opposition’s agricultural spokesman, is calling on Treasurer Jim Chalmers and agriculture minister Murray Watt to investigate supermarket meat sale prices.

In a press release, Mr Littleproud said the federal government must instruct the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to conduct a price inquiry.

“According to Meat and Livestock Australia, some sheep and lamb categories have fallen by up to 70 per cent in the saleyards in the last 12 months,” Mr Littleproud said.

“Lamb prices have drastically reduced and cattle prices have fallen by about 60 per cent. Yet families have barely noticed a difference in prices at the supermarket.”

He’s right, prices have fallen, and there is some reflection in supermarket prices, but not much.

I’ve got a few problems with this.

Years of delays

Mr Littleproud is overlooking the cost to get meat to the supermarkets.

He’s also calling for an ACCC inquiry. ACCC inquiries take ages, so falling supply will have saleyard meat prices back up to usual prices in the two years it takes for any serious inquiry to be held and recommendations made.

And the ACCC has weak prosecutorial powers. So even if it found supermarkets were price gouging, it could do nothing about it. It could recommend a company be fined, but then it would probably have to go to the courts, which again, could take years.

As an experienced politician, Mr Littleproud knows all this, yet he calls for an “urgent” response and the ACCC would have “greater powers to act” than a review.

Mr Littleproud needs to show better leadership to his electorate and party than calling for an investigation he knows will not address the problem.

Makes a good headline though, and I suspect that’s his main aim.

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What do you think about meat prices? Would an inquiry help? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Budget BBQ: Turn cheap cuts of meat into gourmet fare

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
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. The supply chain from the saleyards to the supermarket has to be investigated
    Someone is making excessive profits along the supply chain
    Supermarkets are also not exercising their market power in pressuring prices to stay low

  2. I would love to know the price of a full beast at Coles & Woollies prices, it just seems to me that there’s is a lot of Fat Cat’s involved in the buying and selling of livestock, probably a bit like the egg board and potato board, these leaches are taking the cream off the top and the poor old grassier is getting less and less and the consumer is getting charged more and more .

  3. It is true that the major factor in the costs of Australian meat at the checkout is driven by what are essentially fixed costs of processing, transport and general handling. However the supermarkets do most of their animal processing at a very limited number of abattoirs and hence the benefits of scale should be easier to manage.
    David Littleproud is right to call attention to the apparent disparity in costs at the consumer level and may encourage the supermarkets to honestly assess their pricing strategy.
    We will wait for the price of the hot roast beef in Coles to come below $15 for the 500gm pack.
    Maybe we will see more of the hot roast lamb as the prices of lamb have plummeted.

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