I had a resentful swipe at Fosters in my previous post in response to their underhand profiteering in sizing down their Cascade Premium bottles while keeping the price the same. Apart from dudding clients by offering less value for money, they changed the bottle size by stealth – it was a fait accompli by the time they released the news, the bottle shops having already replaced the old bottles with the new stock, thus ensuring consumers had no opportunity to stock up on the larger bottles before the downsizing came into effect. I’ll be drinking Becks from now on…when it’s on special.
On to today’s topic. I’m wondering if there is some sneaky, Fosters-like profiteering going on in Perth as a direct result of this bloody boom and the bucks those who have hitched a ride on the mining industry are throwing around with abandon.
It’s common knowledge that house prices here have shot through the stratosphere, along with rents, but the reasons for that are transparent and well documented. I’m referring to the staggering increases in some food prices.
Take fish. I have long rated pink snapper as the premium table fish from local waters – even above the much-lauded WA dhufish (or jewfish – the debate is interminable as to which spelling is correct). Pink snapper was once great value, a mid-priced fish far cheaper than, say, jewie or WA barramundi or Atlantic salmon. A couple of years ago, you could pick up pink snapper fillets from the supermarkets on special for around $20 per kilo. Now you’re slugged $70 per kilo!
350% increase in 2 years? Que?! People on average incomes can no longer afford pink snapper. We’re not talking Caspian Sea caviar, here – pink snapper is a local variety of seafood, once a given among the standard choices in metro fish and chip shops.
So maybe pink snapper stocks have been fished too low. Maybe this has sent the price sky-high?
Maybe, but what about the cheaper alternatives? Blue spangled emperor was a good standby. Even 2 years ago, fillets were regularly marked down at Woolworths and Coles to $8.50 per kilo. Not a great table fish, but not bad value at that price. What is it now? Never less than $25 per kilo – a 300% increase in 2 years! Is blue spangled emperor over-fished, too?
How about silver cobbler, from the Ord? Surely no over-fishing factor there – silver cobbler swims the muddy bottoms of Lake Argyle in plague proportions. Yet it is no longer commonly available in supermarkets, and when it is, fillets retail at well over $20 per kilo. This for a pretty ordinary fish. How come?
Here’s an irony: Atlantic salmon, once considered a luxury fish, is now – at around $30 per kilo – among the cheapest fish on offer at Perth seafood retail outlets.
So, unless you’re on the mining gravy train or otherwise earning a healthy income, you have three choices of budget fish, all pre-frozen and none sourced from local waters: basa, Nile perch or hoki.
For those who don’t know, basa comes from the filthy, hyper-polluted, raw-sewage-stained waters of the Mekong Delta and is reportedly stoked with antibiotics and other nasties. Very bland eating, even if you choose to ignore the possible health risks.
Nile perch is imported frozen from Lake Victoria, Africa, where it was introduced for commercial fishing purposes. The local people are unmercifully exploited – paid bugger all for catching it – and it has a devastating effect on local fish species and the aqua-environment. So much so that it has been declared a noxious fish in Queensland (see this Queensland government website). Eating quality? File under “Poor man’s barramundi”.
That leaves hoki. It’s a plus that it’s from the clean waters of New Zealand, but it’s not much of a table fish. Great.
There are many other instances of outrageous hikes in food prices over the last 2 years or so – almost all fruit and veges, for example – but the point I am seeking to establish might be best served by restricting the topic to fish. I would like to ask readers from other States – what are the fish prices you’re paying?
In asking you for your responses to this question, I am trying to establish whether the prices we are being hit with over here are higher than in other capital cities. I suspect they are. And I suspect that Woolworths and Coles have a lot to answer for.
I await your responses with interest. Please click here to leave a Comment, or email me.
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