What is the retail price per kg of the beef in a 300g chilled ready meal? Traders knowing the answer should not tell farmers unless willing to risk being lynched. The point is mark-ups on a weight basis between abattoir lairage and supermarket shelf are becoming meaningless as the retail offer shifts from traditional cuts to added value products (see story opposite page) yet the price spread still provokes intense hostility from producers. Fortunately, retailers can quote MLC economist Tony Fowler's latest calculations as evidence the gap between farm gate and checkout has narrowed during the past year, except on beef. Livestock production and price cycles will nevertheless ensure the gap widens again eventually, no doubt sparking new protests from the producers. {{MEAT }}

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