Weekly kill: Some grids ease further, as weather challenges continue

Weekly kill: Some grids ease further, as weather challenges continue

SOME south Queensland export processors have cut their roaster offers by another 10c/kg this week, continuing the downward trend seen since the 2023 season began.

Best offers seen this morning from competing south Queensland processors saw heavy cows at 570-580c/kg and implanted four-tooth grass bulls 635-650c. Central Queensland plants are mostly 10c/kg behind these prices. To put this into context, final offers in 2022 cows ranged from 600-640c/kg, and four-tooth steers 670-705c.

One company that eased its offers this week said it had managed to secure bookings a ‘little bit ahead’ in its south Queensland operations, but said the cattle market still needed to ease further to adjust to the current very difficult trading conditions in the international meat market.

Further good rain across Queensland over the past 48 hours, with more forecast until Thursday, continues to hamper cattle movements in processing operations in some regions. Many districts received 50-75 mm or more in the latest falls, but registrations are spotty.

All three Central Queensland export plants expect to lose working days later this week as a result. All northern plants up to Townsville have now started their 2023 seasons after earlier rain delays, but are still experiencing supply issues after continued rain.

Large parts of Victoria and eastern SA also had more falls, creating supply challenges. See tomorrow’s weekly rainfall wrap.

Over the corner quotes for two major southern processors seen this morning saw heavy cows at 560c/kg and four tooth grass steers at 665c, unchanged from last week.

Once conditions do start to dry out, most processors in the north are now expecting a rush of cattle to come to market during March/April. This could put further pressure on prices as many operators now see plant labor as a key limiting factor for increased slaughter, and the international meat trade remains very flat, removing any motivation to lift the market to kill more cattle.

One major processor said it thinks national weekly slaughter above about 115,000 will be difficult to achieve this year, based solely on the labor challenges facing meat processors. This is especially true as beef cow numbers start to rise again, after rebuilding herds (see this morning’s MLA 2023 projection report).

What happens if the supply of cattle is going to exceed that 115,000 head is anyone’s guess, but it cannot be favorable for cattle prices.

Meat trading conditions

Adding further headwinds, the A$ has rallied significantly against the US$ since the start of the year, rising from below US68c to above US71c in the past four weeks. This affects Australian beef’s competitiveness in international markets.

The weekly NLRS national slaughter report will be added here, after it arrives in our inbox.

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