Pastoral group Elders believes the price of meat will be under pressure for 18 months or more because demand is still outstripping supply.
Butchers are now seeing it first-hand.
Michael Honeysett, managing director of Craig Cook’s Prime Quality Meats, said prime cuts of beef are now up to 30 per cent more expensive than this time last year.
“Not in 31 years of butchery have I ever seen such a thing,” he told 9News.
“I think, at the moment, we’re probably going to be looking at a rise of 10 to 15 per cent before the end of the year,” Mr Honeysett said.
Brutal droughts over the past 10 to 15 years have decimated the national beef herd, as graziers culled stock.
With recent good rain and green pastures, those same graziers are now trying to restock — meaning the limited supply is in high demand.
Meat & Livestock Australia recently reported record prices at the sale yards.
“There’s just nothing out there at the moment,” Mr Honeysett said.
“Your restockers are buying all the cattle and your feed prices have gone up, so everything has worked towards putting prices up — they’re all skyrocketing at the moment.”
The price of lamb already had its surge 18 months ago, making it expensive but more stable.
Family staples sausages and mince still remain the best value.
Higher feed costs have flowed through to other meats, but Mr Honeysett said there is some good news for the Christmas table.
“Your hams, your turkeys and your pork should be very close to what we paid last year,” he said.
But the COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems for the rest of the family shopping basket.
It found fresh fruit went up by seven per cent, butter by 13 per cent, oils up four per cent, long-life milk three per cent, and eggs up by two per cent.
Dried pasta rose by 15 per cent, although one brand jumped by 37 per cent.
Global restrictions, staff shortages and supply chain issues are key factors, but Professor Gary Mortimer of the QUT Business School said our behaviour also played a part.
“As a result of panic buying and stockpiling, there was a requirement to run factories almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Professor Mortimer said.
“That led to higher wage costs. Those wage costs and extra productions costs are now filtering into higher prices.”
In the past, 90 per cent were being exported. That’s on hold again this year, meaning prices as low as $70 a kilogram.
It’s the lowest price since 2015 and half what they were two years ago.