Already strained Aussie households must brace for steadily rising fresh meat and vegetable prices this year, an analyst has warned.
The cost of beef, lamb, chicken and pork have all jumped from this time last year, according to latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data.
Coffee lovers have also seen sharp rises to their favourite drink, while alcohol prices are on their way up too, underlining why the cost of living is proving such a crunch battleground on the federal election campaign trail.
Beef prices have increased 9 per cent from 2021 levels, largely because of strong demand from China, with lamb lifting almost 7 per cent.
Chicken and pork have so far been least affected, however that could be about to change with global feed grain shortages caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Matt Dalgleish, manager of commodity markets insights at Thomas Elder Markets, warned Aussie chicken and pig farmers are probably on the brink of passing on rising production costs to shoppers and supermarkets.
“I think for the next year there’s going to be price pressures for consumers across a whole range of products,” Dalgleish told 9news.com.au.
Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions had seriously curtailed backpacker labour on livestock and horticultural farms, he said, and that issue is now manifesting in fresh food prices.
“There has been quite a few stories getting around about farmers with the inability to harvest at the right time who are forced to leave product to rot in the ground, or they’re turning it back into the ground because they’ve just not got access to the labour force.
“That lack of supply of product has been flowing through into higher prices at the supermarket for a whole range of vegetables.”
The cost of vegetables and coffee are up 8 per cent, compared to 2021, with milk closing in on 4 per cent.
Alcohol prices had lifted by about 15 per cent in the past five years, Dalgleish said, after being relatively stable through the first half of the last decade.
Meat and seafood had increased by more than a third from levels seen in 2013.
Combined with recent and anticipated interest rate rises, Dalgleish said Aussie household budgets would inevitably come under pressure this year.
The jump in inflation surprised many analysts, who had expected an increase to no more than match the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, when annual CPI hit 5 per cent.
House prices, mortgage repayments, and the cost of food, schooling and fuel have been front of centre of federal election debates.