Red meat sales in Australia are firmly back on the road to recovery, according to statistics released today from Meat & Livestock Australia. The figures show a second year of strong recovery following dwindling sales in the 80s and 90s,writes Simon Pitman.
The market report shows that Australian consumer expenditure on red meat has grown for the fifth year in a row, and that expenditure came in at A$420 million (€256m) in 2003 to reach a total market value of over A$7.7 billion.
In announcing the domestic red meat expenditure figures Meat and Livestock Australia general manager marketing David Thomason said that strong consumer demand was behind the increase in value.
"In the last two years beef prices have jumped 12 per cent, yet volumes have grown 15 per cent. For lamb, prices are up 28 per cent yet volumes are down only 9 per cent, due mainly to limited supply. Strong consumer demand is buffering the price increases," he said.
"The value of the domestic red meat market has increased by A$2.4 billion in the last five years - a 45 per cent increase. This is a remarkable performance in any category, let alone one as established and as large as meat."
Thomson added that there were a number of factors driving demand for red meat in the Australian retail market, including better quality product, better retail presentation, effective promotion and the fact that people are feeling better about eating red meat.
In the 80s red meat sales in Australia were hit by life style changes as consumers moved towards products that were perceived to be healthier, such as chicken. Issues of quality and food safety also had a significant impact. Throughout the 90's sales remained stagnant at a steady A$5 billion.
Thomson also emphasized the increasing importance he believes that meat is playing in family diets, citing statistics that claim the number of families who restrict red meat consumption has fallen from 57 per cent to 44 per cent over the last two years.
"Improved retail presentation of red meat products has also helped drive this demand. Supermarkets and butchers are improving their trimming practices, their packaging and their promotion, which is helping to maintain consumption in the face of the price increases.
"Underpinning this continued demand is improving the quality of our beef and lamb. Some 84 per cent of consumers rate the quality of the beef they buy nowadays at seven out of 10 or better."
The organization also highlighted that consumer expenditure on beef increased by nearly A$400 million in 2003, an increase of 7.3 per cent compared to the year before. Expenditure for lamb increased by 4.1 per cent when compared with 2002, rising by A$62 million in 2003.