It’s true! Beef prices in Canada are set to drop significantly after two years of painful increases. But the news is not all good. For one thing, it may take months for lower prices to filter down to consumers. The question is, is that fair? Or is it a cash grab by the giant meat processors?
A recent CBC News report claims Beef prices have dropped, at the farm gate, by 15 to 20 percent since late last year. But that won’t translate to savings at the supermarket for several more months. And, even with those declines at source, Beef Prices within the production and processing chain remain at all-time record highs. Not to mention, at the supermarket.
It takes 21 days to properly age beef, in a cool, dry place. Maybe another week to get it to the supermarket. Why did we not start to see price relief at the consumer level after the first month of drops in the prices paid to farmers?
I see only one explanation. The big Beef Brokers – the packers and processors – elected to hold off on passing on the savings to consumers and gouge an additional few months’ profit at their stage of the supply chain – at least until consumers found out about the price declines at the source. Well, now we know!
The question of whether savings to manufacturers will be passed on to consumers at all is one that’s asked every time a major change in the game for manufacturers is revealed. But, as Beef market analyst Brian Petillat of CanFax told CBC, “It’s a commodity market. We see big booms and busts with oil and we went through one with cattle.”
Okay. We’ve seen world oil prices plummet in the past few months and fuel prices at the pump have declined in step with that trend. So where are the retail price cuts in Beef? It smells like there’s something fishy, unethical and greedy going on in the Beef Industry. So, who’s going to stand up for the little guy (and gal) and get those savings at the farm gate passed on?
HINT TO MEAT PROCESSORS AND RETAILERS: Think long-term! The longer you keep retail prices high, the more people – en mass – draw away from beef (or at least the better, more expensive cuts of Beef) in favour of Pork and Chicken. Your sales will ultimately fall, and stay low. Are you prepared for beef to become a specialty item in the diet of Canadians or would you prefer it to remain a staple?
~ Maggie J.