In this file:


·         Airfreight beef exports halted by international flight bans - AU

·         Weekly kill: Grids slide further on pessimistic trade outlook - AU



Airfreight beef exports halted by international flight bans


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (Australia)

March 24, 2020


THE cancellation of international passenger flights into, and out of Australia has seen airfreight beef shipments to export markets grind to a virtual halt in the past week.


Airfreight had been playing an important role in an increasingly turbulent global meat trade this year, especially into markets like China, where sea port closures and container blockages were commonplace during January and February due to coronavirus. Click here to view an earlier story.


For the first two months of 2020, Australian airfreight beef shipments to all destinations totalled 5115 tonnes, and lamb and mutton, almost 10,000t. For the same period last year, beef air shipments totalled 4416t.


Main markets being served by air were China, the Middle East, and southern Asian destinations like Singapore.


Beef Central wrote about the growing airfreight red meat export trade in this earlier article.   


The overwhelming majority of chilled beef airfreight leaving Australia is carried as cargo in the holds of passenger aircraft – not dedicated cargo aircraft – Beef Central was told.


Consequently, the cessation of international passenger flights last week has greatly restricted access to freight services. While there are some remaining dedicated cargo aircraft services still flying out of Australia through DHL and other international carriers, there are relatively few freight-only aircraft in service, and access is now extremely limited, Beef Central was told.


Freight rates go through the roof ...





Weekly kill: Grids slide further on pessimistic trade outlook


Jon Condon, BEEF Central (Australia) 

March 24, 2020


PROCESSOR direct consignment grid offers came under considerable pressure last week, as further reports about export trade difficulty surrounding COVID-19 surfaced.


Some Queensland grids shifted up to 60c/kg during the course of last week, in advance of Beef Central’s Friday story about the difficult outlook for export beef.


Best offers from processors in southern Queensland this morning were 580-590c/kg for four-tooth HGP-treated heavy grass steer, and heavy cows in a fairly wide band from 490-520c/kg. Grainfed offers for spot sales eased dramatically, falling from around 680c last week to 620-625c yesterday.


Similar grassfed money is available in plants in Central Queensland, with North Queensland 10-20c/kg behind that.


A large northern NSW export processor has offers this week for kills week commencing 13 April of 550c/kg for four-tooth HGP-free grass steer, and 500c/kg on heavy cows – down 50-60c/kg from offers made just a fortnight ago.


NSW over the hooks quotes for the week ended Friday on average eased 5c/kg last week, with heavy cows quoted at 527c and four-tooth heavy steer 581c. Victorian quotes were down 6c on average, to 508c on heavy cows and 585c on steers.


Despite the big pull-back that’s been observed in pricing, most northern processors appear to be in a considerably better position supply-wise this week than what they were two or three weeks ago. Most large plants are scheduling a full week’s kill this week, after a sequence of weeks where dark-days were enforced by meagre cattle supply.


That appears to be driven by three or four main factors:


·         Producers now sense that the top of the market cycle has now been reached, and feel it’s best to offload stock before they move too far down the reverse side of the slope

·         Some producers apparently hold concerns that beef processors might get caught-up in plant closures due to positive coronavirus detections, meaning they might not be able to get cattle killed at all for weeks, or even months

·         Earlier wet weather issues that were hampering cattle movements have now been resolved, and western cattle, particularly, are able to flow east for processing again.

·         Cash flow may be an issue, especially if some vendors are wary that slaughter operations may be put on hold due to disease issues.


“We’ve made it very clear that our plants will endeavour to continue to operate as normal during the coronavirus close-down period,” one large export processor said. “But all that changes if and when we get a positive test result in the workforce. Then it’s a whole different ballgame,” he said...