MLA releases North of the Tropic Beef Report

15 September 2015


In an effort to provide a greater level of market information to producers and exporters in northern Australia, MLA has commenced producing the monthly North of the Tropic Beef Report.

The report gives a snapshot of northern live export prices, over-the-hook indicators and saleyard prices, in addition to northern slaughter, live exports and saleyard throughput.

In August, prices through all major northern turnoff channels remained strong.

  • The north Queensland over-the-hook heavy steer indicator averaged 495¢, up 38¢/kg cwt month-on-month
  • Darwin live export feeder steers averaged 265¢, back 5¢/kg lwt
  • Townsville live export feeder steers averaged 245¢, up 10¢/kg lwt
  • The north Queensland saleyard grassfed bullock indicator averaged 266¢, up 16¢/kg lwt

Tightening slaughter cattle supplies, particularly further south, have continued to put upward pressure on cattle prices.

  • During August, north Queensland weekly cattle slaughter averaged 24,874 head, back 3% year-on-year
  • In comparison, total eastern sates weekly cattle slaughter averaged 155,880 head, back 7% year-on-year

While sufficient numbers of cattle continue to come through to slaughter in the north, upward price pressure in the south has had flow effects to northern grids.

In the first six months of 2015, northern Australia live cattle exports remained at unprecedented levels. However, recent shipments have been impacted by changing quarterly Indonesian import quotas. With a greater exposure to the Indonesian market, the Darwin live export cattle indicators declined during August, although they remained historically high. Shipments out of Townsville were less affected, as a larger portion of exports were destined for Vietnam. All of the Townsville live export cattle indicators trended higher during August.

Throughput at the two MLA reported saleyards, CQLX Gracemere and Emerald, remained strong in August, propped up by cattle drawn from outside the local area. Saleyard prices also trended upwards during the month, however it was the heavier slaughter cattle that recorded the strongest gains, with most lines up 20¢/kg lwt.

The North of the Tropic Beef Report is expected to add to the suite of reports MLA publishes but, in particular, provide detailed and relevant information to those in northern Australia. To ensure the information provided in this report is continually valuable, feedback is welcome on how it may be improved.

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