AUSTRALIA, North Sydney. For the first time in three years, Australian cattle prices are lower than they were 12 months ago and, with production up, the price drop has caused some concern.
The beef market is set to face some downward pressure after red meat production increased and cattle prices dropped, according to levy board Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
After three years of year-on-year cattle price rises, MLA’s manager of market information Ben Thomas said the writing was on the wall in June. Last month, eastern Australian states’ slaughter rates consistently tracked ahead of the previous year for the first time since 2014. At the same time, cattle prices dropped for the first time in three years.
MLA does not expect cattle prices to fall below the pre-2013 levels, partly due to a stagnant Australian dollar and continuing herd restocking as pasture conditions improve for farmers. Thomas did concede that the low rates of female cattle slaughter, necessary as Australia rebuilds its herd, had impacted many parts of the industry.
While there is pressure domestically on Australian beef producers, MLA expects a fifth consecutive year of beef exports surpassing one million tonnes.