Prices are the real BBQ stopper

January 23, 2018

What’s not to love about being the BBQ host with the most? The cost, that’s what. We take a look at the real cost of the average Australia Day barbecue.

Grabbing the tongs and firing up the barbie is an Australia Day tradition.

But while it was once a simple affair – a loaf of bread, a dozen snags, a few onions and tomato sauce – this once inexpensive tradition has changed over the years. And so has the cost.

As TV personality and “Lambassador” Sam Kekovich attests, lamb is a barbecue staple, particularly on Australia Day. Cutlets can cost anywhere from $30 to $60 per kilo and according to Meat and Livestock Australia, prices are set to remain steady. But Adam Roberts, co-founder of the Australian Barbecue Alliance says it’s the “hipster-driven accessories” that will push up the cost of an average lamb cook-up.

“Lamb prices remain pretty stable but prices of fancy ingredients to complement the meat are going up,” Roberts says. “So things get a little more expensive when people bring in different rubs and sauces and marinades and that sort of stuff.”

We may be throwing fewer shrimps on the barbie this year with seafood suppliers struggling to keep up with Australia’s insatiable demand for prawns. Scarcity is the main price driver. Last year, a contagious disease called white spot, found in imported and locally farmed prawns resulted in a ban on imported prawns. While this has since been lifted, it forced retailers to bump up prices and restaurants to take prawns off the menu. Floods in Queensland have also affected prices, which were at 30 year highs over the 2017 Christmas period. Late last year, the waters around Yamba prawn farms, a key NSW prawn-producing region, were closed in an effort to mitigate against possible white spot infection, so the trend could be set to continue.

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Who doesn’t love a snag in bread? The good news for lovers of the trusty sausage is that Australia’s supermarket wars have seen prices stay competitive in the past two years. A 24-pack at Aldi costs $7.99, $8 at Woolworths and Coles. Expect prices to dip when Australia Day promotions kick in.

Depending on your poison, a slab of beer can be eye-wateringly expensive or downright cheap. But overall, you might be surprised to learn that Australia is one of the most expensive places on the planet to enjoy a cold glass of amber goodness. And no matter the choice of beer, drinkers are likely to fork out more in the future. In NSW a new recycling scheme will see slab prices jump by about $4, while increased international oil, diesel and gas prices will mean manufacturing costs inch up.

Every keen host needs a full gas bottle in summer. These cost about $18 for a 3.7kg model and $25 for 8.5kg (if you swap your old gas bottle), but prices are not likely to stay this low. Last year Australia was on the brink of a predicted gas shortage, with producers exporting at levels threatening domestic supplies. Government negotiations turned the situation around but prices continue to rise. Again, scarcity of supply is still the main driver, according to a report on gas price trends. Might be a good time to dust off the old charcoal burning Weber.

Price fluctuations may change the Australia Day menu, but it will always be a day of feasting. So gather the troops, tell them to bring a plate and celebrate in true Aussie style; by spreading the cost around.

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