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Chop price of chops - farmers

| Economic factors

Retailers are using the drought to pull the wool over your eyes over sky-high meat prices.

This is according to Eastern Cape farmer Richard Armstrong, who used social media to warn shoppers that retailers were ripping them off when the producer price of lamb had, in fact, gone down two weeks ago.

In his post, which has been shared on Facebook and Twitter several thousand times, Armstrong said the producer price had dropped from R72/kg in February to R51/kg.

"That is a whopping 29.1%. These prices were last seen 26 months ago. Question the retailers the next time you buy your chops; they are ripping you off badly. To top it off, certain retailers even put up signs in their stores apologising for the prices and the quality and blame the drought. What bull!"

According to a response to his post, one retailer charged as much as R199/kg for lamb.

The chief executive of the Red Meat Producers' Organisation, Gerhard Schutte, said Armstrong's post was "absolutely 100% correct".

"Studies by the University of the Free State found that, if the producer price goes up, the consumer price goes up. If the producer price goes down, the consumer price goes down - but there is a time lag.

"This lower price has been in the market for about two weeks now so it's time for the trade to play the game."

He said for a half and a whole carcass there was usually a 33% mark-up on the producer price after VAT.

"Currently, you should be paying around R77/kg for a half or whole carcass, which would give the best value for money."

But economist Dawie Roodt said using the drought to justify price increases was not "wrong or immoral".

"Everybody will increase prices if they get the opportunity. It's not a matter of whether there' s a drought but of whether you have the muscle to increase prices.

"This animal is called 'the free market'.

"It's the same as the consumer not needing an excuse to try to pay less for his purchases."

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