Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

More consumers are ditching the butchery aisle in retail stores‚ cutting out the middle man and turning to bulk meat-buying to save money.

Pieter Prinsloo of SA’s Red Meat Producers Organisation said last year’s drought had contributed greatly to the increase in meat prices this year but essentially meat was more expensive at retailers because "it is convenient shopping".

"If you take lamb‚ for example‚ you can buy it wholesale for about R70/kg‚ excluding VAT‚ and the cheapest at a retailer will be plus-minus R99! So work out the saving yourself‚" he said. "Beef you can buy wholesale from a farmer for R48/kg and that will give you a 30% saving [in comparison to the retailer]."

"If I were to buy the same amount of meat at retail stores‚ I would need a loan the following day‚ that’s how much I feel meat is expensive‚" says Bongane Qansane from Germiston‚ who spends R1,500 monthly on his favourite protein.

In an informal comparison of prices‚ TimesLIVE found that a kilogram of stewing beef at a City Deep wholesaler in Johannesburg went for R65.95/kg. Pick n Pay and Spar‚ however‚ sold a kilogram of the same for R79.99‚ while Checkers sold it for R10 more.

A kilogram of brisket from the wholesaler was R65.95‚ while it went for R87.99 at Pick n Pay‚ R92.99 at Checkers and R98.99 at Spar.

Businesses are also feeling the pinch. Restaurant owner Perfect Mpofu was spotted filling the boot of his car with meat he had purchased from a wholesaler. "I buy meat worth about R30,000 a month and it has noticeably gone up from last year‚" he said.

A butcher from the Alberton Meat Market‚ however‚ said it was important to note that it was not only the price of meat that could differ from one place to the other, but the cut and grade too. While a kilogram of lamb chops may be the same price at different butcheries‚ some portions could be fattier than others.

Factors such as whether the animal was grain-fed also contributed to the price, as did proximity to farming areas.

Zeyn Adrian Jenkins‚ from Durban‚ said he paid about R350 for 10kg of quarter chickens in Durban. "It’s R200 in Pietermaritzburg or Port Shepstone‚" he said.

Sipho Dube partners with a friend to save money. "On a monthly basis, I give my friend money to purchase meat for me‚ very reasonable kilos for less money. I spend R400 a month and an additional R40 for fuel to give to the guy who is buying for me. I have been doing this for ages. I have a family to look after‚ so I’m saving big time, and it’s also quality meat‚" he said.

A pharmacist and mother of two travels close to an hour with her friends every two months to go to the Eskort butchery in Heidelberg to get a wholesale deal and save money for other essentials. "It’s a huge saving. We go with friends and we get the best meat at cheap prices. We buy and freeze. it and I can go for two months without buying any other meat‚" she said.

She spends 40% less than she would at retailers: "Not only is the meat cheap‚ it’s fresh. I am glad I made this decision‚ life got better."

For six Soweto women‚ bulk-buying allows them to keep meat on their tables. Thoko Nkosi said they put away R150 a month for 11 months. Come the festive season‚ they can afford to stock up on meat. "Last year‚ we were able to buy a cow for about R6,000 and we told the butcher how we wanted it cut. We all walked away with different cuts of meat from your steak to your T-bone‚" Nkosi said.

"Had we not joined together and I walked into a [retailer] with R1,600‚ I would only get enough meat to last me about two months."

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