Footy finals tip: Pie prices tick up faster than the scoreboard

Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons

With the footy finals upon us, questions of team moves, wet weather and last minute tickets abound. 

But perhaps no query is more pressing right now than the cost of a pie at the game, a typically inexpensive pleasure that’s no longer a given. 

Having a pie in the stands is indeed a long-held ritual of Aussie life, a perfectly drawn up fast food play, perhaps only rivalled by the humble sausage sandwich. No matter the score, the pie eater is a winner. 

But at what cost in 2022? 

With rising prices everywhere we turn, it'd be a shock if the food supply umps spared the footy fan from a post pandemic price penalty, wouldn't it? They’ll surely serve up a line about how microchips in Germany or chilli crops in Mexico are impacting the heat inside footy stadium ovens.

While global economic theory is certainly more complicated than I’m making out, cost of living explanations sometimes feel more dubious than scrum feeds. On the one hand, the cost of beef is up 11% globally from last year, says Rabobank. But on the other hand, Aussies are slugged extra simply because global demand for our beef has gone up. We need Gus Gould on an action replay to sort this one out. 

Nostalgia of lower living costs

For those who can remember, a day at the footy was once much cheaper because, well, our big cities were smaller and supply was sufficient, especially as demand for most things was relatively low. I mean it was just easier to enjoy a frugal day at the footy on a whim. But there was also the basic fact that a ticket to sit on a hard plastic seat at a windswept park was fittingly priced. Now it’s as if we’re paying to see Elton! When it comes to inflation, we’re still standing. Just.

Food at the footy, hastily cooked, packaged and queued along warm metal shelves, has been no exception to rising living costs either. I can vaguely recall paying about $2 for a pie at the footy in the nineties, which seemed as good a price then as it does now. Some light internet research this week uncovered even cheaper prices in the eighties, some claiming $1.15 as the common pie pricepoint. 

How wonderful things were back then I guess, when consumer price inflation (CPI) hit 8% and pies were under two bucks! We're currently at 6% inflation and pies are up above $5 or even $6. Sure, times change, the crowd grows, fervour swells and global events are more intrusive on the economy than the Bunker. 

I say all this with tongue in cheek of course, because six dollars in the grand scheme of things isn't that much for a pie, not when a takeaway latte is $5 or a Big Mac is closer to $7. The problem is, this isn't the going rate everywhere. A check of the SCG website shows that pies were $6.70 before being reduced to $4.90 for members. So I'm assuming as a non-member I'm up for close to $7. That's a bit saucy for mine. 

At other grounds around the country, prices might vary, so to do the array of offerings in 2022. Take CommBank Stadium in Parramatta where a hot dog goes for $5.10, which seems a rather sound investment, especially when your league team makes it into the NRL’s preliminary finals. On the other side of town, the new Allianz Stadium has burgers for about $14 but also a gourmet pie for $8.50. Hopefully Roosters fans savoured every bite.

Meanwhile, some grounds, acutely aware of creeping prices for years, have been known to offer fans retro-style discounts. Among those has been the MCG, home of this week's AFL Grand Final, which in recent times has offloaded Four N' Twenty meat pies at half-price. That’s worthy of a double finger point! 

All this aside, perhaps more worrying for fans than price is no pies at all. One of the beefier rumours this week was that fans would go sans pies at the big game between Sydney and Geelong. That was before the MCG's people jumped on social media to assure pie fanatics that their beloved little pockets of beef and gravy would indeed be available, and in plentiful supply.

Crisis averted, prices momentarily forgotten.

If you're looking for more ways to save money, why not visit our Cost of Living hub.