Buyers chasing quality over quantity

Angus Cattle

All indicators took a dive this week, as saleyard reports from major selling centres mention buyer behaviour as selective in what they were after. Despite a fall in yardings of 21% week-on-week there is still plenty to choose from.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) fell by 6% (38¢/kg) on the week prior, dropping below the 600¢/kg mark, closing out the sale week at 577¢/kg. Supply was the driving force behind the drop in price with yardings for the indicator up 14% (2.7k head). The EYCI is now back just over 100¢/kg from its peak 6 weeks ago, where the price rally which began in late October came to an end. Roma had the highest average price for the indicator at 620¢/kg and the largest contribution of 28%. Its saleyard report talks of a full buying field with everyone active, albeit selective in what they were purchasing.

The National Processor Cow indicator continued to slide, down 10% (24¢/kg) with supply for the indicator also falling 5% on the previous week. Processor cow prices are now in line with where they were mid-rally during December last year. Roma and Wagga had a combined contribution of 28% and both averaged slightly above the indicator at 216 ¢/kg and 213¢/kg respectively.   

Restocker Heifer and Steer indicators also lost ground on the previous week, with both down 7% and 5% respectively. Restocker Heifers closed the week at 238¢/kg and the Steers at 336¢/kg. Yardings for the two were up significantly week on week with increases of 46% for the heifers and 35% for the steers which applied downward pressure on the price. The heifers are currently just shy of 100 c/kg cheaper than the males, trading at 29% discount which is slightly above the 25% average discount in the past year. Both indicators peaked in early February and since then have dropped, the females falling 26% (84 c/kg) and the males falling slightly less, down 16% (62 c/kg).

The Western State Young Cattle Indicator fell slightly by 3% (11 c/kg) on the previous week, this is despite some rainfall in the last two weeks. Yardings for the indicator jumped 23%, applying downward pressure on price as seen across the market for the week. 

Australian beef exports to the US continue their hot streak with Steiner Consulting Group reporting that the predicted volume of beef exported to the US for March will be 29k MT a 68% increase on March 2023. This follows the trend year to date of huge increases in volume to the US. Demand from the US is high as their slaughter rates continue to fall on the back of a declining herd and a low AUD making Australian products even more competitive. This should help bolster the processor cow market domestically as the demand according to the report won’t be drying up in the short term, with Brazil (largest beef exporter to the US) already hitting its low tariff quota for 2024. 

Next week

No significant rainfall events are forecasted from the BOM, so we’re likely to see elevated supply continue, which is still sitting at above-average levels according to the MLA’s NRLS. Without a decent autumn rainfall break, it is likely that producers will continue to offload stock applying further downward pressure on prices as processors and feeders sit back for cheaper prices.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo, Steiner Consulting Group, Mecardo

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