More people are ditching the butchery aisle in retail stores‚ cutting out the middle man and turning to bulk meat-buying to save money writes Naledi Shange and Kgaugelo Masweneng.
“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.
“Once a month I make a trip to Heidelberg. There’s an Eskort butchery where I get my pork relatively cheaper than normal shops‚ and I go to Karan beef butchery in the same area for beef and mutton. It’s great value for money‚ plus I have been saving a lot since I started buying in bulk.
“At first my wife did not understand but now she is happy with my decision. I don’t compromise when it comes to meat‚ so she had to be‚” Qansane said jokingly.
Sipho Dube partners with a friend.
“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‚” said Dube.
A pharmacist who is a mother of two says she 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. I can go two months without buying any other meat‚” she said.
She spends 40% less than she would in retail shops.
“Not only is the meat cheap‚ it’s fresh. I am glad I made this decision‚ life got better‚” she added.
Pieter Prinsloo of the 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 around R70 per kg‚ ex 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 per kg and that will give you a 30% saving [in comparison to the retailer]‚” Prinsloo said.
Centurion consumer Graeme Hosken says buying directly from the farmer has been life-changing.
“I am able to save about R2500-R3000 a month on all my groceries‚” Hosken said.
“I buy everything from meat to veggies and [other essentials] at the Pretoria Farmers Market. Retailers are just too expensive and we only go there for detergents and small things we can’t get at the market‚” he said.
Proximity to farming areas can also affect prices.
Zeyn Adrian Jenkins‚ from Durban‚ said he paid around R350 for 10kg of quarter chicken in Durban.
“It’s R200 in Pietermaritzburg or Port Shepstone‚” he said.
For six Soweto women‚ bulk buying allows them to keep meat on their tables.
Thoko Nkosi explained that 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‚” she said.
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 per kg. Pick n Pay and Spar‚ however‚ sold a kilogram of the same for R79.99‚ while Checkers sold it for R10 more.
A kilo 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 of the meat could differ too.
He explained that while a kilogram of lamb chops may be the exact same price at different butcheries‚ some portions could be fattier than others.
Factors like whether the animal was grain-fed also contributed to the price.