Buyer dynamic changes as weight and condition slides

11 February 2016

Following recent rain across parts of the country and a tightening of overall cattle supply, the changing condition of cattle coming through saleyards has resulted in shifts in the proportion of cattle purchased by different sectors in the supply chain.

Restockers became more competitive on cows, buying a slightly larger portion of those yarded in January across the eastern states, compared with last year, reflecting the slide in quality, condition and weight which was particularly evident in Queensland. This also follows prolonged plant closures, as northern processors struggle to find supply, amidst a softer export beef market. Processors still remained the dominant buyers, however, purchasing 93% of cows in NSW, 92% in Victoria and 79% in Queensland for January 2016.

January this year saw a shift in sales of grown steers to feeder buyers, who bought 27% more of the throughput in Queensland and 10% more in Victoria. In Queensland, there was a 25% increase in 400-500kg grown steers in saleyards, and a smaller number weighing over 500kg . NSW saw only small shifts in buyer shares, with feeders purchasing an additional 2% year-on-year and processors maintaining a 52% portion of the market.

Yearling categories yarded in January consisted of an increased percentage of heavier yearlings in Queensland and a reduction in heavy weights in Victoria and NSW, compared to the same time last year. This, coupled with poorer muscle and fat scores in Victoria, resulted in processors competing less on both steers and heifers, and restockers and feeders securing a larger portion of the market. The lack of finish on yearling steers and heifers in NSW and Queensland also meant only a small proportion was sold to processors. Feeders purchased an increased majority of yearling steers and heifers in NSW, but in Queensland they were outbid on heifers by restockers who purchased 11% more of the month’s throughput year-on-year.

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