Lamb sales push retail prices up

By Rodney Woods

The record lamb prices may be music to farmers’ ears but for butchers and abattoirs it’s bad news.

Shepparton’s Kreuger Meats owner Martin Krueger said he would have to increase the retail price for lamb because of the current situation.

‘‘We will slowly have to increase the prices to our customers,’’ he said.

Mr Krueger said many butchers were working on small margins and the high saleyard price of lamb was hurting his business.

‘‘Lamb used to be a high turnover but it’s slowly becoming a luxury item,’’ he said.

‘‘It used to be cheaper, it used to be a table staple, but now it’s a luxury item.’’

Mr Krueger said other meats were being favoured.

‘‘Certainly it’s good for chicken — and beef and pork have been reasonably stable — but chicken at the moment is the cheaper meat.’’

Butchers are not the only businesses having trouble with high lamb prices, with Wangaratta Abattoirs also struggling to sell product, especially domestically.

‘‘There’s three things affecting them (prices),’’ Wangaratta Abattoirs wholesale manager Peter Kittelty said.

‘‘Drought is one reason, shortage of numbers and the export side are taking a lot of smaller lambs (are the others).

‘‘The price of lamb is killing us. If it doesn’t rain, prices will drop but there will be issues later because there will be none left.

‘‘It’s definitely tough going. There’s not enough domestic sales.’’

After prices reached nearly $280/head at saleyards a fortnight ago, a sale at Forbes in NSW saw two lambs sell for $300.60/head on July 31.