THE perception that beef in Australia is expensive has been laid bare in rather novel research conducted by online catering company Caterwings on the global price of basic food items.
Australia is way down at number 17 in the ranking of countries with the most expensive meat.
Our beef prices sit at just 13.5 per cent above the world average, our chicken at 44.2pc, seafood only 2pc and lamb 28.8.
Switzerland has the highest meat prices at 141.9pc more expensive than the worldwide average, followed by Norway at 63.7pc and Hong Kong at 61pc.
The Ukraine has the least expensive meat prices at 52.3pc below the average, closely followed by Malaysia.
The London-based Caterwings invested in the meat consumer insights, involving more than 50 countries, as preliminary research ahead of their expansion in foreign markets.
The company said the findings confirmed that not only does the price of meat vary massively from country to country but there was also an enormous disparity in its accessibility for people.
In an interesting twist, Caterwings calculated the relative number of hours a person on minimum wage must work to buy meat in their country.
Australians have to work just 1.5 hours to afford beef.
Indonesians have to work 23.6 for the same size serving.
For seafood in Australia, it’s also 1.5 hours, slightly less than lamb at 1.7 hours and more than chicken at just 0.6.
Indians on minimum wage need to work 10.5 hours to buy the same amount of chicken.
Australians have the highest meat consumption at 111.5 kilograms per person per annum.
Prominent Sydney meat retailer Craig Cook, who has 19 butcher shops under the Prime Quality Meats and The Natural Butcher name, said the Australian consumer had taken beef for granted for a long time.
“The quality and the volumes we have access to, at the price, is incredible, compared to what’s sold around the world, particularly in grassfed” he said.
“Typically the type of rump Australians pay $20/kg for is around $40 overseas.
“I’ve seen Wagyu for sale in Japan at the equivalent of $500 a kilogram Australian money. It really is only for the very affluent and rich.”
With retail beef prices lifting in the past two years on the back of short cattle supply, Australians have had to crunch the numbers more and look closely at value, Mr Cook said.
“Beef is still coming up trumps,” he said.
“It ticks so many boxes which makes it very good value, even in the higher price range.
“Nutrition, ease of use, versatility, status, its entrenchment in our culture, its status and of course its quality.”
Indeed, nutritionist Nicole Senior says beef is "excellent nutritional bang for your buck".
"It's a nutrient-dense food - one of the best sources of bio-available iron. It provides vitamin B12 and the most long chain omega-3 fats in our diets after fish," she said.
Red meat provides 30 per cent of iron and half the zinc requirements in typical Australian diets, she said.
Meat and Livestock Australia reports the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that while beef still dominates the protein landscape, red meat accounted for 63pc of total Australian meat production in 2016-17, well below the 87pc recorded during the height of herd liquidation in 1977-78.
For the full results of the Caterwings research see https://www.caterwings.co.uk/caterers/2017-meat-price-index-usd/