After months of only incremental price drops on red meat against a backdrop of rock-bottom livestock markets, the big two supermarkets are now going head-to-head on slashing what consumers will pay for lamb.
From tomorrow, both Woolworths and Coles will wipe between 20 and 36 per cent off the price tag of more than two dozen lamb products.
Both are dropping lamb leg roasts from $10 a kilogram to $8, forequarter chops from $16 to $12.50 and cutlets from $43 to $34/kg.
Woolworths says the leg roast price is the lowest regular price on lamb since June 2013.
Other retailers, including independent butchers, are expected to see a need to keep pace.
And industry leaders believe it won't be long before a similar move is made in beef.
Cattle Australia's David Foote said the lamb supply chain was much shorter than beef, with the majority of supermarket beef commitments historically coming via feedlots which are up to 90 days out.
The discrepancy between high retail prices for both beef and lamb and plummeting prices being returned to producers has garnered plenty of attention in recent months, from both consumers and within livestock industries.
While it seems there is nothing farmers hate more than dear steaks at the same time as cheap cattle, some argument was made that the industry as a whole would not benefit from a reduction in consumer dollars coming into the supply chain.
However, Mr Foote believes retail prices had reached a point where sales growth had stalled.
He said there were a host of other reasons contributing to that plateau, including inflation and the after-effects of the pandemic, but some downward movement in retail prices would now benefit the wider supply chain.
While lamb prices at the saleyard have dropped 25.5 per cent over the September quarter, the quarterly consumer price index for that period shows at a retail level, sheep meat prices declined by just 4.7pc.
The supermarkets have pointed to tough household financial times as instigating their move on lamb prices.
They say they want to lower the price on the products their customers need the most.
Woolworths expects to sell 1.7 million kilograms of lamb leg roast this Christmas season.
Coles general manager meat deli and seafood Martin Smithson said half of customers were now cooking more from home and wanted to serve their family and friends quality ingredients.
"Lamb is one of our most popular cuts of meat and right now spring lamb is at its finest," he said.
"Wholesale prices are falling and we want to make sure this is reflected in the prices customers pay at the check-out."
Woolworths said for most of its lamb purchases, it partners directly with farmers and preferred livestock agents.
This allows for agreement on fair livestock prices that reflect the high quality of the lamb, welfare standards and market dynamics, it says. Only a small portion of Woolworths' lamb comes from saleyards.
A Woolworths spokesperson said: "The reported industry-wide average livestock prices do not reflect the actual price we pay our direct suppliers for premium lamb. We value our long term relationships with farmers and livestock agents who work with us to manage volatility in the market. We honour the price commitments we make to them and we don't jump to take advantage of lower spot prices.
"We are currently working with our long term lamb suppliers to forward-contract into February and March to ensure they have confidence to feed their lambs over Christmas and the drier periods."
Chief executive officer of Endeavour Meats' domestic and export supply business, Anthony Pratt, said retailers' red meat prices had been "surprisingly reticent" to follow sheep and cattle markets this year.
He said he fully understood producer disquiet about the continued stickiness of high retail prices given the stark disparity with markets after six months of falling saleyard values.
While the sheep industry and wholesalers had been "almost giving lamb away", local supermarket prices where he lived in western Brisbane had typically not reflected the oversupply reality being played out in saleyards and on farms.
He said four weeks ago his local butcher was pricing lamb loins at $9.99 a kilo, while across the road they were $28.99/kg at a major supermarket.
"I don't know why it's taken so long," he said.