As anticipated in the July update, a dry finish to winter and an exceptionally warm and dry September ensued across much of the country. The main impact of the poor season has been the downward trajectory of Australian cattle prices – largely caused by waning restocker demand. In recent weeks, however, some rain across southern Queensland and northern NSW has revived the market, with reduced yardings and stronger restocker buyer activity lifting prices.
The dry is yet to jeopardise the national herd rebuild, with adult cattle slaughter remaining on track with the July update. However, record numbers on feed and a relatively low proportion of females making up cattle slaughter has resulted in an upwards revision to average carcase weights. This, in turn, has flowed on to a slight increase in projected beef production and export volumes.
Although coming off the boil in recent weeks, the appreciation of the A$ over the last few months has challenged Australian exporters – particularly at a time when the US, Australia's greatest competitor on the global market, has been expanding its beef production and global market share.
The cattle market hangs in the balance, with the price direction in the short-term dependent on how the season plays out in the lead up to summer. If the positive rainfall outlook for eastern Australia in October comes to fruition, this will go a long way to supporting young cattle prices.
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