Cheap eastern states beef undermining local producers

24 Jul, 2008 10:33 AM
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CHEAP eastern states' beef priced significantly less than similar WA product is for sale in the heart of the state's's beef-producing regions, undermining local farmers who have invested heavily in their operations.

For the past week, selected IGA stores, including Boyup Brook's, Bridgetown's and Jurien's outlets, have been advertising $12.99/kg cryovac-packed scotch fillet from Queensland processor Teys Bros.

Comparable quality WA scotch fillet sells for about $15.99/kg.

The undercutting is causing frustration for the state's beef producers who claim they are investing in their operations to produce the highest quality product but are not getting the right returns for it.

IGA is not the only seller of the imported beef and other WA retail outlets have often had the cheaper product on their shelves.

Badgingarra beef producer Deborah Avery said she was amazed to see Queensland beef selling for $12.99/kg at the Jurien IGA.

"Right next to it was premium grade WA-produced scotch fillet selling for $33/kg," Mrs Avery said.

Mrs Avery, whose family also own the Mt Stuart pastoral station, said the imported beef was very dark and looked to be a very low quality.

She said, as a beef producer, it was frustrating to see the WA market being undercut by cheap imports.

"The Government is in danger of killing off the goose that lays the golden egg by allowing this to take place," she said.

"WA beef producers are struggling to make a living, they are leaving the industry yet we are seeing increased competition from eastern states' beef.

National Association of Retail Grocers president John Cummings owns several IGA stores.

He said he does not sell eastern states' beef in his stores but cannot stop others from doing so.

"In my own stores I only sell premium grade, WA-produced beef," he said.

"The cheaper eastern states' beef is just not in the same grade as WA beef quality wise, but I can see why some stores sell it.

"This beef has a certain life span and if a wholesaler brings in 100 cartons and only sells 70 cartons, what does he do with the other 30 cartons? They discount it to shift it rather than waste it."

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