SUPPLY has won the day over demand this week, as some Queensland processors push their cow grids 20c/kg higher in the face of meagre mid-year access to slaughter cattle.
More plants across eastern Australia are reporting skipped shifts this week as they struggle to raise a worthwhile tally.
Discounting weeks affected by public holidays, there’s a clear, gradual decline evident in rates of eastern states slaughter over the past three months (see Beef Central’s home-page industry dashboard graphs), as the impact of last year’s severe drought is borne out.
This week’s eastern states tally of 121,391 head was down another 1pc on the week before, representing a massive reduction of 24pc, year-on-year. All states were impacted, bar Tasmania.
In Queensland, slaughter fell another 2pc to 59,714 head, while in NSW, kills eased 1pc on the previous week to 30,592. Victoria’s tally also eased 1pc to 22,895 head, while South Australia fell 2pc to 3259 head. Against the trend, Tasmania lifted 9pc to 4931 head.
Competitive processors in southern Queensland lifted their cow grids by 20c since Friday, with best cow offers now 570c/kg.
Grids for four-tooth steers remain at 620-630c depending on location (some of the higher offers are for HGP-free cattle only). Central Queensland offers were typically 10c/kg behind those rates this morning.
No real changes were evident in southern state grids again last week, after some sharp rises earlier in June. Among publically disclosed grids, Naracoorte and Wagga are currently offering 610-615c on four-tooth grass steers, and heavy full-mouth cows 560c.
A large northern NSW export processor has current offers for kills this week of 540c/kg on heavy cows and 560c/kg on four-tooth grown steers, no HGP.
Over the hooks indictors published by NLRS this morning showed NSW grids last week unchanged, with cows 280kg+ at 543c, and four-tooth grown steers 595c. Victorian grids trended higher again last week, with grown steers up 6c to 642c on four-tooth types, while cows were up 3c to 5241c on best 280kg+ descriptions.
Tough meat trading conditions
Particularly tough export meat trading conditions are evident at present, being driven in part by a surprisingly rapid turnaround in the fortunes of the US meat packing industry.
Larger volumes of competitively priced US product are appearing in key markets like Japan and Korea, making life difficult for Australian traders.
After being paralysed by a series of packing plant closures due to COVID-19 infections in April and May, US meat packers were back to close to pre-COVID capacity last week, US reports suggested.
Added to this, delays in slaughter due to earlier packing plant closures has added dramatically to US fed carcase weights, as the recovery has gained momentum. For the year-to-date, US steer and heifer carcase weights have averaged 12.5kg heavier than last year, while average carcase weights in the ten weeks to June 6 were a colossal 17kg heavier than last year.
Export meat sales remain challenging
Large rates of processing in the US is pushing imported meat prices lower, with imported lean trim last week in the US quoted at less than 705c/kg in Aussie currency terms, down more than 110c/kg compared with this time last month, when US processors were battling temporary closures due to COVID.