Cattle saleyards, people

Both yardings and slaughter dipped last week in line with the seasonal trends , but while the EYCI strengthened, the restocker indicator has continued to decline and cows have fallen out of favour after reaching an all time high only a fortnight ago.

East coast slaughter dipped 3% last week to 87,030 head, with VIC and SA the main culprits for the reduced numbers. These states respectively pegged a 3% and 33% reduction, while QLD remained on par with the week prior.  A decline at this time of year is fairly typical, and we can expect that numbers may continue to take a downward trend for the few weeks ahead.

East coast yardings dropped back 7% last week, with VIC offerings falling 37% and QLD 26%, which was offset by a 56% surge of cattle to the saleyard in NSW.

Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) eligible yardings rose 4% to 14,691 head this week, but despite the continued strong offering, the EYCI pushed up 7¢(<1%) to  1,120¢/kg cwt. Roma store lead the way again, contributing 21% to the weekly index, at 1,127¢/kg cwt, followed by Dalby, at 11%, and 1,081¢/kg cwt.

Over in the west, the Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) strengthened again, lifting 16¢(1%) to 1,168¢/kg cwt, again on a similar sized solid yarding to last week of 1,006 head. As usual, vealers comprised the majority of the offering, at 85%.  

The national categories were a veritable loss, with all cattle types losing ground, bar medium steers. The worst affected was the Restocker steer indicator, which shed 30¢(4%) to close the week at 698¢/kg lwt, bringing the cumulative fall since mid-February to 60¢(8%). Cow prices have also continued their decline from highs achieved at the start of the month, losing 12¢(3%) this week to close at 350¢/kg lwt.

The US frozen cow 90CL price remained unchanged in US dollar terms again last week, steady at 305¢US/lb. In Aussie dollar terms, it added 5¢ (<1%) to 920¢/kg swt, on the back of a slightly weakened Australian dollar last week. The dollar has strengthened this week, however, so we will see some decline in the one week delayed price quote next week, unless underlying US prices lift.  The latest Steiner commentary points out that the volume of Brazilian beef being offered into the market in Q2-22 is surprising, given that a 26.4% tariff is likely to apply, and the behaviour is probably linked to concerns about demand in China due to COVID resurgence. This subject is covered in more detail in this week’s article Brazil encroaching on US hamburger market.

The week ahead….

With young cattle being supplied in relatively strong amounts over the last few weeks, the EYCI has held up admirably, but falling restocker indicators cast a more ominous cloud over how long the price can hold up. The COVID lockdown situation in China, and its impact on consumer demand for beef, particularly via the foodservice channel, will be a key factor to our US export fortunes, and cow prices.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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