Higher meat prices in store
RECORD cattle prices are delivering overdue relief for Coffs Coast graziers, but the region's butchers are warning it could push the price of steak off the shopping list.
Butchers and wholesalers have begun to feel the pinch as cattle prices continue to skyrocket at the state's saleyards, fuelled by strong overseas demand and the softening Australian dollar.
Some cuts have spiked by as much as 50 per cent in the past six months and peak industry bodies say shoppers should get used to paying more.
Coffs Harbour butcher Russell Greenwood said record prices coupled with rising overheads mean it is becoming difficult not to pass on increases to shoppers.
"Some cuts have increased about 20% in the last six weeks alone... it's impossible to keep prices down," he said.
"On loin cuts we've seen a rise of $1.50 per kilo and there's talk about prices doubling again.
"If it continues the way it's going I'd expect to see a lot of independent butchers closing their doors."
Major retailers including Coles and Aldi have already increased prices for certain cuts, but Big Country Meats owner Allan Cook said while cattle prices are the highest in Australian history, he's not expecting a drop in demand.
"Even though the price for shoulder cuts have gone up, barbecue steaks haven't gone up with the same significance," he said.
"If you were to buy one steak 12 months ago for $3.50, you'll now be looking at $4 now, which is not that dramatic."
While butchers remain cautious, the prices are welcome for graziers including Scott Amon, who runs 90 head of breeding cattle at Barru in Valla.
Just 12 months ago, Mr Amon was facing extended dry conditions; forcing his cattle on to feed, with profits reinvested in his herd to ensure numbers could be retained.
"Over the last decade prices have been horrendous and they're only now getting back to where they were 20 years ago," he said.
"There have been a lot of cattle killed in the last couple of years and Australian producers need this increase to recover and make costs.
"Prices are historically high but this should have been happening all along."