In this file:


·         Beef ready to shoot sky-high

·         Weekly kill: Grids rise 10-15c in parts of Queensland, a little less in the south

·         Beef exports strong but at cost to herd



Beef ready to shoot sky-high

REBUILDING TIME: A return to good seasons would spark a scramble to quickly rebuild the Australian beef herd to around 29 million head.


Vernon Graham, Queensland Country Life (Australia)

8 Jul 2019


All the Australian beef industry's "stars" have aligned except a big one - rain.


Ongoing drought has triggered an alarming erosion in the size of the breeding herd at a time when export demand for our beef is red hot.


Australia's cattle slaughter rose 10 per cent year-on-year to 8.12 million head in the 12 months to April while production jumped 6pc to 2.3m tonnes.


The extra beef hasn't caused much of a ripple in the market as eager consumers at home and overseas shout for more.


Despite the "war" on livestock farming being waged by radical vegans and the potential threat posed by plant-based "fake" meat, global demand for red meat is forecast to keep growing into the foreseeable future.


Meat & Livestock Australia market intelligence manager Scott Tolmie said global beef consumption was projected to grow by around 1.2pc per annum for the next seven or eight years.


Mr Tolmie said growing world population and wealth were steadily lifting demand for high-quality proteins like beef.


Notwithstanding unexpected headwinds like the eruption of a full-blown trade war (or an actual war) or disease outbreak, he said the outlook for Australian beef was positive, particularly in Asia where beef consumption was expected to grow to 26m tonnes by 2027.


The US has been exporting more beef into key Asian markets like South Korea and Japan but Mr Tolmie said the American herd was poised to enter a liquidation phase with numbers likely to peak at around 95.2m next year.


Americans have also been eating more beef which has reduced tonnages available for export.


A timely drop in Australia's exchange rate has also helped make the price of our beef more attractive to importers with the Australian dollar dropping from US80c to below US70c in the past couple of years and a rebound was unlikely any time soon.


Mr Tolmie said Australia had widened the diversity of its export markets since 1994 when almost 80pc of all our shipments went to Japan and the US.


Japan and the US still take...


more, including chart



Weekly kill: Grids rise 10-15c in parts of Queensland, a little less in the south


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (Australia)

July 9, 2019


PROCESSOR direct consignment grid offers have lifted sharply in Queensland over the past few days, while smaller rises have also been seen in parts of southern Australia.


There appears to be several factors in play in the larger Queensland adjustments, after a period of five or six weeks of very little or no price movement.


In the southern part of Queensland where the greatest concentration of processing in Australia exists, cow prices among competitive exporters have shot up 15c/kg, with current offers depending on location of 435-440c/kg.


Export steer prices have risen 10c/kg, with four-tooth heavy grassfed steer offers now around 535-550c/kg, depending on plant location. HGP status may add 5c/kg either side of those figures for some processors.


Most Central Queensland grids have also risen 5c/kg this week, and are now typically 10c/kg behind those southern Queensland rates.


Some southern state grids have also lifted this week, with Wagga’s grass grid rising 10c/kg late last week, due to some local rain events and tightening supply. No change at Naracoorte.


Some of the factors in play in price movements appear to include:


·         Cattle bookings appear to be slowing down a little, in contrast with just a week or two ago when many processors held solid forward space bookings right through July and into August

·         Patchy rain in some areas of Queensland and NSW last week has contributed to that

·         Recent larger weekly kills (last week was the biggest weekly tally seen across eastern Australia since October 2015) has seen processors ‘work through’ the available population of slaughter cattle a little more quickly than anticipated

·         Saleyard prices have continued to move upwards, as seen over the past fortnight or so, prompting a corresponding rise in direct consignment money

·         As outlined in last week’s kill report, southern beef processors continue to press north looking for slaughter stock, creating a little more competitive tension in the marketplace

·         Processor margins remain solid, buoyed by continued strong international beef demand and a cooperative Australian dollar that has settled at or below US70c for the past three months (see home page Industry Dashboard graphs).


Weekly kill falls 5pc ...





Beef exports strong but at cost to herd


Ken Wilcock, Queensland Country Life (Australia)

9 Jul 2019


LATEST beef export figures released by Department of Agriculture show tonnage at the halfway mark of the calendar year is still well ahead of the same period last year but at significant cost to the size of the national herd.


For the month of June beef exports totalled 100,050 tonnes which took the six-month progressive figure for 2019 to 569,105t.


That equates to a 6 per cent increase on 2018 and healthy associated multiplier benefits through the economy but the downside is the fact that the extra cattle that have generated this result have essentially all come from the breeder herd.


Latest ABS figures (May) confirm that the proportion of females in the kill is still running at an extraordinarily high 58pc.


That is about 7pc more than what occurred in the first half of last year and those extras coming out of an already diminished herd are the reason processors have real concerns about future supply of slaughter cattle.


But in the meantime with nothing more than hope for an early spring break, the likelihood is that the current high proportion of females will continue.


Interestingly, average carcase weight does not yet seem to be falling with progression into the harder months of the year.


Across the three months March to May when proportion of females remained locked on 58pc, average carcase weight according to ABS was unchanged at 280kg.


By comparison in May 2018 when female proportion was 53pc, average carcase weight was 290kg.


There has been some anecdotal suggestion that females coming through now are not as good as earlier in the year and if that is the case overall and female proportion remains at similarly high levels, average carcase weight can be expected to fall and that will reflect in export tonnage.


To appreciate just how important average carcase weight is to production efficiency, we need only to compare this year's May figures with last year's.


In 2018 a kill of 758,000 head resulted in export tonnage of 109,700.


This year it was 784,000 head for 105,400t.


That's 26,000 extra cattle killed for 4300t less beef exported.


Asia up, US down ...


Southern operators driving cow market ...