Meat – a health and monetary hazard to consumers

21/11/2007 15:23

The Consumer Council of Fiji is concerned at the exorbitant prices consumers have to pay when purchasing meat especially overseas lamb from certain supermarkets and shops. A market surveillance survey conducted by the Council’s research section revealed that importers and distributors of meat, particularly lamb related products charge exorbitant prices to small shops and other retailing outlets which practically means that these importers and distributors are charging a higher mark up price percentage than that required by the Prices and Incomes Board (PIB).

The Counter Inflation Act, order 2007 (schedule 1) clearly states that the new mark-up percentage of importing and retailing of locally cut chops is 25% before being charged to consumers. This means that 10% makes up the import percentage while the remaining 15 makes up retail.  However, the importing, wholesaling and retailing mark-up is 30% whereby import percentage is 10% while wholesale and retail make up the remaining 5 and 15% respectively. The current wholesale mark-up percentage including import is 15%. On the other hand, prices charged to consumers by these small retailing outlets and that of major distributors makes little or no difference at all. This simply means that the wholesalers are selling above the 15% mark-up percentage which violates the PIB controlled pricing system.

All in all what we all fail to understand is why there was an increase in duty for lamb shank making it more expensive than lamb chops when both are by products of the same parent lamb product. In addition to this, the recent decrease in the mark-up price of these lamb related products does not at all guarantee the quality of meat consumers get for their hard earned dollar when all lamb meat circulating within our economy are not graded. Most lamb products have more fat than quality meat content in them. Consumers are then burdened with extra costs to be able to afford quality and well balanced meals.

The Council would like to urge the Customs Authority to regulate or form a body that enables grading of overseas meat so that consumers get what their hard-earned dollars are worth.