SUBURBAN Brisbane butcher Michael James says there is still very strong interest in lamb, but higher prices are seeing a shift in buyer behaviour.
"It's not just that consumers are buying less lamb, but they are switching to cheaper lamb products such as sausages, and buying more pork," Mr James said.
"Before families would have a lamb roast every Sunday. Now that roast is only once a fortnight. And where families were eating chops or cutlets, the switch has been to lamb sausages."
Pork, which was typically $4 to $5/kg cheaper than lamb, had also seen an upsurge in sales.
Mr James and his wife Sherry operate Carina North Quality Meats, which has seven staff including three apprentices. Carina is located about 7km east of the Brisbane CBD and is a suburb largely populated with families.
"The market is very price sensitive," Mr James said. "Families, especially with hungry teenagers, are looking for the best value protein."
To maximise sales Mr James said his strategy had been to buy the best quality product available. That included stocking the Tasmanian lamb that had won at the Royal Queensland Show for the past two years.
Social media, in particular Facebook and Instagram, also played a key role in attracting customers. "It's not just the young people we reach," Mr James said. "Its everyone aged from 20 to 60."
Mr James is a fifth generation butcher. Previous generations have continually operated butcher shops in Brisbane since 1904.