Beef
Prime meat cuts at Hong Kong’s Gaucho

Higher prices for steak are expected as a global shortage of beef looks set to send prices soaring.

Chefs in Australia are warning diners may be forced to cut back on the amount of beef they eat, with prices there nearly double what they were 16 years ago – caused by a global shortage of cattle stocks, increased meat consumption worldwide, drought and the weaker Australian dollar.

Meat and Livestock Australia figures show the average price of beef is now AU$19.15 per kg compared to AU$10.59 in 2000. Prime beef cuts are the worst affected, up an average of AU$4.68 in two years.

For restaurants that specialise in steak, the price hikes have been especially difficult to swallow, with many venues attempting to absorb costs rather than pass them onto diners.

At Brisbane steakhouse Chophouse, the most expensive steak is AU$195 for a 1.7kg tomahawk steak, and steak prices have had a “slight increase,” says executive chef George Diamond who also runs Kingsley’s Steakhouse at Woolloomoolloo.

“We have to be a little bit more intelligent in what we’re offering. The less expensive cuts have become quite trendy, and we try to put entry-level products on the menu, such as a T-bone minute steak for AU$30, so we can keep people coming in.”

Diamond said chefs had also turned to cheaper cuts such as formerly unpopular hangar and skirt steaks to try to minimise costs, while sharing the pain of the price hikes across other aspects of his menu, including wine prices. “We have to work hard to make sure we get return patronage, so we have to absorb most of the costs.”

Australian Meat Industry Council retail chair Ray Kelso, who is also a butcher, said it was not all “doom and gloom” with beef sales still strong and great specials available for meat depending on the grade.

“We can’t whinge about the price, it’s just one of those things,” Kelso says. “There is nothing we could do about the high beef prices, the only thing we can do is push other lines of meat like chicken and pork.”

 

(Source: Parts of this article first appeared in The Courier Mail)