Aussie lamb priced off the menu
NEXT time you have a craving for a good old Aussie roast lamb sandwich you may have to rethink your plans.
The rising cost of lamb has finally claimed a big retail scalp, with carvery chain Bucking Bull dropping lamb from its menu across its 32 stores, including the Riverlink Shopping Centre at North Ipswich.
The move comes after a consistent increase in the price of lamb over the past 18 months, making it an unprofitable option for the food-court chain.
Renee Johnston, general manager of operations for Active Brands, which represents Bucking Bull franchisees, said consistently high wholesale prices have left them with no other option.
"Prices at the saleyards have come down recently but we're yet to see that translate to the retailer price," Ms Johnston said.
"A couple of years ago retail carton prices were $8 to $9 a kilo, now they're $13 but they have been as high as $15 a kilo.
"It's got to a point where it just isn't a viable option anymore."
Meat and Livestock Australia's trade lamb index supports Active Brands concerns, showing trade lamb prices have dropped 20% since March this year.
At the same time retail prices remain high, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.
They show the retail price of lamb legs has risen about 20% since March 2010, while pork has remained stable and beef has reduced in price.
The chain has given individual store owners the option of continuing to offer lamb but many, including Riverlink, have chosen to replace it with chicken.
"It's not a decision we took lightly," Ms Johnston said.
"We should have seen relief from meat suppliers in the last few months but unfortunately we haven't.
"Without a doubt we will reintroduce lamb to the menu as soon as the price returns to a reasonable level."
Four years ago the chain attempted to introduce a surcharge on the product when prices rose but a customer backlash meant the move was now considered unviable.
"We tried surcharging four years ago when prices were high but it created more problems than it solved," Ms Johnston said.