Rains' rate rise has international support

Rains' rate rise has international support


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CROSSBRED EWES: Retiring from farming, John Douglas, Tennyson, sold aged crossbred ewes at $210 a head at Bendigo on Monday. Photo by Murray Arnel.

CROSSBRED EWES: Retiring from farming, John Douglas, Tennyson, sold aged crossbred ewes at $210 a head at Bendigo on Monday. Photo by Murray Arnel.

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The latest export figures show trade impact on price resilience regardless of rain.

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It was nothing but the smell of rain driving livestock prices higher in the past week, with indicators on the rise across the board.

Mutton rose another 19 cents a kilogram on Monday to 500c/kg, gaining a whopping 80c/kg in just a week, while restocker lambs, at 707c/kg, jumped 58c/kg.

At Wagga Wagga, NSW, in the Riverina last Thursday, mutton sheep were selling at above 600c/kg, the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) said, with the top price of $234 a head for heavy crossbred ewes breaking a saleyard record.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator has broken 500c/kg for the first time since the middle of January, now sitting just 40c/kg below the same time last year after rising close to 50c/kg for the week.

The cow prices also climbed more than 20c/kg to 197c/kg, on par with year-opening prices for the first time for 2019.

NLRS reported over the hook cattle prices rising from 2-7c/kg in Victoria last week, while young trade cattle were 8-15c/kg at Pakenham on Monday, and cows lifted 30-50c/kg at that sale.

And while it is restockers banking on autumn rain bringing good tidings for the year to come supporting prices in the short term, it is booming export markets which have been holding them up this year despite heightened throughput.

According to Meat & Livestock Australia, "year-to-date sheep slaughter across the eastern states has now surpassed 1.7 million head, up 22 per cent on 2018 and up 37pc over a two-year period".

China's growing taste for Australian protein - particularly mutton as a lower price point option to lamb - has seen them import 65pc more mutton for the first two months of 2019, compared to last year.

At the same time, the US sheep flock has fallen to its lowest total ever and the Australian dollar (currently sitting on US71c) has not traded above US73c for the year.

This has increased their intake and price paid for Australian lamb this year.

"For the year so far (through March 2), Australian lamb imports totalled 12,041 tonnes shipped weight, up 21pc on the previous year," MLA said.

"Prices have held firm despite increased supply.

"The price of chilled Australian racks are up 10-15pc year-on-year (depending on size), while most other cuts are up from 1-10pc."

Lamb exports were also up 21pc to the Middle East for January-February year-on-year.

Despite being slightly less resilient, beef prices have also likely been helped along by a 10.75pc increase in export volumes for the first two months of the year.

China has again led the growth, taking 60pc more Australian beef compared to January-February last year, while the US, Japan and South Korea markets have also grown for that time period.

This growth, teamed with a widespread rain and diminished breeding numbers, can only mean upside for livestock prices in the east - if the autumn breaks the right way.

And while most producers rightfully watch their preferred weather app - or the sky - for what's in store, exporting processors will be keeping an eye on any further downturn of the Chinese economy, and where trade agreements land with the EU and the UK post-Brexit.

The story Rains' rate rise has international support first appeared on Stock & Land.

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