Northern markets resist southern price decline

20 October 2015

MLA’s October edition of the North of the Tropic Beef Report outlines the latest trends in Australia’s northern cattle markets.

While many southern markets have recorded considerable falls so far in October, northern markets, particularly at the store end, have declined to a lesser extent, supported by strong live-export quotes.

Currently, feeder steers out of Darwin, for delivery in coming weeks, range from 315-330¢/kg lwt, while Townsville feeder steers are approaching 300¢/kg lwt, with some quotes meeting that mark.

Through northern saleyards (Emerald, CQLX Gracemere and Charters Towers) last week, restocker steers, at 250¢/kg lwt, were back 28¢/kg lwt from where they peaked one month ago, but this is still better than the 40-50¢/kg lwt losses recorded through some southern markets. However, the prime end of northern saleyards has been affected by lacklustre processor demand. The grassfed bullock indicator was back 40¢/kg lwt on month-ago levels, at 263¢/kg lwt (or an estimated 488¢/kg cwt), and the medium cow indicator was back 48¢/kg lwt, at 190¢/kg lwt (or an estimated 395¢/kg cwt).

The north Queensland over-the-hook (OTH) indicators have also eased, yet by a smaller degree than their southern counterparts. This week, the north Queensland heavy steer OTH indicator was 519¢/kg cwt, back 35¢/kg cwt from where it peaked in late September. The recorded decline has been to a similar extent to south Queensland grids, although in NSW and Victoria comparable lines of cattle eased 45-50¢/kg cwt over the same period.

Direct consignment cow prices have been affected to a greater degree – due to a slowdown in the imported US beef market, the approach of full US quota utilisation and a slight increase in the A$ – with the north Queensland medium cow OTH indicator this week at 460¢/kg cwt, back 51¢/kg cwt on where it tracked in late September.

For the full report, please click here.

To subscribe to the North of the Tropic Beef Report please email

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