Bright 2009 outlook for Australian beef still stands

by Editor
Thursday, February 05, 2009

Beef producers look set for a bright future in 2009 with better saleyard prices and a lift in export demand and volumes, according to Meat & Livestock Australia.

Despite the economic slowdown and recession in the United States, Japan and Europe, he said the fall in the Australian dollar would have a larger impact on markets.

While national herd numbers declined by 1% to 27.8 million head in 2008, MLA economist Tim McRae said he expected numbers to rise by 2.8% to 28.6m this year.

The drought was also expected to affect producer incomes in southern Australia, through herd size, variations in turnoff rates and drought-related expenditures.

MLA says that while southern beef farm incomes are expected to improve in 2008-09, they will be well below those forecast for northern Australia.

Mr McRae said that while cattle turnoff in 2009 would be back slightly, as producers looked to rebuild herds, from 2010 onwards this should increase.

Australian saleyard prices this year are forecast to average higher across all categories, according to Mr McRae. The largest price increases are expected in young cattle and cows.

Exports are expected to continue to build on last year's record weights, reaching 990,000 tonnes in 2009.

Altogether Mr McRae said the future outlook for beef was bright but there is a fair bit of uncertainty.