Meat Survey

Reporter: Andrea Burns

Think you're paying more for the meat on your dinner plate? You're not imagining it - you are. But do you don't have to. For the past five years we've done secret, spot checks on Perth meat prices. The latest results are in -and they're startling. Barry Urquhart says “the drought might be out there, but there's certainly no drought as far as increases go” Marketing expert Barry Urquhart says while we're screaming about the hikes in petrol prices, in some cases the jump in meat prices is even higher.

Five years ago we thought we were being fleeced paying eighty eight cents a litre for fuel - two years later, it was up to ninety one , then a dollar ten. The average this year - a dollar twenty six - a five year hike of forty three per cent. Compare that to prices in meat. Skinless chicken breasts were up twenty per cent on the price in two-thousand-and-one. Beef mince has jumped twenty two per cent in that time. If you like a T-bone steak, it'll cost you thirty two per cent more now than it did five years ago and the biggest jump? The apparently not-so-humble lamb chop, up a whopping sixty per cent. Barry says “Sam Kekovitch has got a lot to answer for”

“So don't be unaustralian, serve lamb on Australia day, I'm Sam Kekovitch” Whatever Sam thinks, we surveyed twenty five stores across the metropolitan area comparing only the price of different cuts of meat. Comparing quality is more subjective. First - lamb chops. Sam Kekovitch says “we might not have lost the ashes if our cricketers picked up lamb chops instead of mobile phones”

Vince says “If you look at the eye of the lamb chop 39.50/k that equals filet steak now , not a shred of bone, not a shred of fat, not a shred of gristle , people are paying for it and saying thank you” Gourmet butcher Vince Gareffa says lamb chops have undergone a makeover. “The way it is now, very elegant, slightly underdone and very pink in the centre and it's definitely made the centre of the table, the celebration centrepiece” But that celebration's coming at a cost. You could pay almost nineteen dollars a kilo, or less than half that - nine dollars a kilo, from Frank's Gourmet Meats in Fremantle.

When it comes to sausages, snagger-lovers will be pleased to know the average price has actually dropped from last year. But still, there was a big price variation.You could pay almost seven dollars a kilos for beef sausages... but why would you - when they're available for three dollars ninety eight in Coles stores from Warnbro to Joondalup?

To mince now... Barry says “It is good economic times for many Australians. For other Australians on the lower economic income structure they're starting to say hold on, are we going to take T-bone or are we going to take beef mince - beef mince is a lot more appealing to many people“
Still, Vince Garreffa says consumers are demanding quality. “What's happening now is we're no longer using trimmings to make a mince, we're getting beautiful steak and mincing that up, so many consumers are finding sensational recipes that call for premium” But what price, premium ? Well, the average price of beef mince was just under the ten dollars a kilo. The most expensive mince we found was almost fourteen dollars, the cheapest - six ninety-nine at Dewsons South Lake and Helena Valley, as well as Avon Valley Beef Malaga.

Heading upmarket - and T-bone steaks. Have we become snobs when it comes to meat? Absolutely and I think we should. It'll cost you... the most expensive T-bones in our survey tipped the scales at twenty three forty nine a kilo ... that butcher would knock eight dollars fifty a kilo off if customers bought four or more. The cheapest T-bone we found was twelve ninety-nine, from Menu Master Meats in Thornlie.

Finally, chicken breasts. And for the original white meat you could pay eighteen ninety nine a kilo, or buy them at Dewsons in Ellenbrook or Coolbellup and they'll only be nine ninety nine. Barry says “it is primarily a health decision, but it's being reinforced by the financial incentive to maintain what you are already doing”

The most we could have paid, buying each of the meats, is over seventy three dollars. Barry says “We don't expect it, we don't like it, we are not loyal to retailers, nor to particular brands of products or foods, so consequently we are shopping around” And by comparing prices, we found the cheapest basket came in at forty nine dollars ninety five, from Avon Valley Beef in Malaga - that's a difference of more than twenty three dollars. Barry also says think of the petrol that could buy you. “If that's once a week, that's 17 litres, if you drive to work 15 kilometres, it means the savings you make will actually pay for you driving to and from work 5 days a week.”

Last word goes to Vince. He says buy the best meat you can afford, and enjoy it. This year's dry winter means meat prices next year might be even higher. “So good weather now - we pay for it next year. So pray for rain? Pray for rain, please.”

Best Prices for Meats

LAMB LOIN CHOPS

Most expensive - $18.99

CHEAPEST - $9.00 - FRANK'S GOURMET MEATS FREMANTLE

BEEF SAUSAGES

Most expensive - $6.99

CHEAPEST - $3.98 - Coles Hillarys, Cloverdale, Cannington, Gosnells, Claremont , Joondalup, Warnbro

MINCE BEEF

Average - $9.80

Most expensive - $13.99

CHEAPEST - $6.99 Dewsons South Lake & Helena Valley

Avon Valley Beef, Malaga

T-BONE STEAK

Most expensive - $23.49

Cheapest - $12.99 - Menu Master Meats, Thornlie

SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS

Most expensive - $18.99

Cheapest - $9.99 Dewsons Ellenbrook, Coolbellup

OVERALL

Most expensive basket - $73.79

Cheapest basket - $49.95 Avon Valley Beef, Malaga

SAVING - $23.84