Processing

A$ continues to unsettle processors

Jon Condon, 01/08/2011

Last week’s resurgent dollar, which crept past US110c briefly on July 26, has further unsettled export processors and kept the handbrake on slaughter rates across the nation for another week.

To claim a rise in statistics for kill rates for the week just ended would be a misnomer, because any lift in throughput was coming off one of the lowest July kill weeks in recent memory.

The NLRS slaughter report issued this afternoon for the week ended Friday, July 29 showed an adult kill figure of 119,398 head, a 3.4 percent rise on the previous week’s recent historic July low of 115,272.

The NLRS report covers the three major eastern beef producing states plus South Australia and Tasmania.

Queensland, representing about half the nation’s kill, showed a sizeable recovery in processing activity, lifting by 9pc to 66,254 head – although again, this was off an extremely low base a week earlier of 61,036 head. Last week’s Queensland kill was still 13pc below the same period last year.

A number of Queensland plants still only killed four days last week, but the flow of cattle was significantly improved from a week earlier, one processor said.

Slaughter rates in southern states were mixed. Numbers in NSW rose 1pc to 33,540 head (up 4pc on the same week last year), but Victoria took an 8pc dive to 15,611 head, with skipped shifts in some plants during a typically slow seasonal turnoff period. Tasmania was also down 4pc to 3260 adult cattle.

In South Australia, the recent closures of Teys Naracoorte and T&R Murray Bridge continued to impact on kills, with only 733 head processed for the week, down 81pc on this time last year.

With international trade already very flat, the news of a rising dollar last week only worsened the situation for exporters, and could potentially add further tonnage to stockpiled beef in cold storage which cannot find a home in the export trade, one processor said.

News today that the US Senate appears to have found a resolution to the US national debt issue, avoiding a default on debt repayments, could ease concerns about further abrupt A$ currency rises, some commentators were saying this afternoon.

Other potential impacts on the export sector might emerge in coming weeks, however, as the EU grainfed beef import quota system starts to perform in unusual ways, and reports out of Russia suggest some disruptions to trade might be a possibility.

The big build-up of meat in cold stores as a result of the difficulty in selling meat into sluggish Japanese and US export markets was still weighing heavily on the wholesale beef trade.

  • The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator closed this afternoon at 372.5c, down 5c from a week earlier.
     

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