cattle on pasture

This week was another story of a strong influx of supply swamping demand, and pushing prices lower. Large numbers of feeder steers came to market, as well as eligible EYCI yardings of near 18,000 head- 50% higher than the more typical 12,000 we have gotten used to seeing this year.

East coast slaughter for the week ending 18th November, 2022 rose 2% week on week to 98,546 head. This follows the typical upward trend seen over the last five years in the November -December period, but is up 7% on last year’s volumes.

The Eastern states Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) plummeted 62¢ (6%) over the course of the week, closing at 926¢/kg cwt. Since the start of November, the index has now fallen a total of 98¢(9.5%). Compared to 2021, the price has slipped 17%. This weeks largest contributors to the index were Roma store at 23%, Dubbo 15 16% and Dalby at 16%. Dubbo prices averaged the lowest out of the week’s big three, at 853¢/kg cwt. Overall, the market has responded negatively to a strong influx of supply this week, with 17,678 eligible cattle contributing to the index- the largest weekly total seen for months. Clearly, the weight of supply is overrunning demand for young cattle, and this has dragged prices lower.

 The Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) advanced 30¢(3%) this week to close at 1,025¢/kg cwt. Providing support to the index was the average steer price recovering by 38¢(5%) to settle at 859¢/kg cwt, with the increase in the vealer proportion to 90% helping the broader index climb higher.   Eligible yardings rose 76% to 2241 head, smashing last week’s yarding record, as weaner steers continue to flood into the saleyards.

MLA’s preliminary national yardings data for this week revealed that supply recovered again, up 21% on the prior week, to 56,000 head, almost reaching record weekly levels for the year.  Yardings ramped up rapidly in QLD, NSW and WA, but fell in VIC and SA.

It was another down week for the national indicators, with another sea of red ink showing up.  Processor steer prices plunged the most, losing 39¢(8%) to close at 466¢/kg lwt, while restocker and feeder steers dropped 30¢(5%) and 11¢(3%) to 585¢/kg lwt and 466¢/kg lwt respectively. Both price falls were driven by increased supply, with eligible restocker yardings jumping 27% week on week to reach 2,500 head, the largest yarding seen since June this year, and feeder steer yardings spiked 57% to reach 8,560 head.

The 90CL frozen cow price only slipped back 0.5¢/lb (~1¢AUD) in US dollar terms last week, to 240.0¢/lb but  appreciation of the AUD last week pushed prices substantially lower in AUD terms, losing 20¢(2.5%), to settle back down at 789¢/kg swt. Steiner reports that Brazilian beef imports into the US are ramping up, and going into bonded warehouses for release in 2023, when quotas reset. This is likely to put more downward pressure on lean beef prices in Q1-23, and buyers are all too aware; with bidding largely unenthusiastic.

The week ahead….

It appears that the predominant mood of strong marketing intentions is likely to persist in northern Australia in the coming weeks, putting more supply side pressure on the market as producers push to offload cattle. Demand has clearly weakened, with reports indicating that buying intention is lacklustre, with feedlots in particular bidding casually, waiting for further falls. There isn’t much time left till the Christmas break- the question is whether the recent falls in prices are deep enough to get producers to hold off.

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Data sources: MLA, Steiner, Mecardo

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