Beef shipments to China continue to run red hot but that hasn't stopped the benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) taking an unwelcome dip.
The EYCI shed 14 cents to close at 476.75c on Tuesday evening after looking like it was poised to crash back through the 500c barrier last week.
A return to good seasonal conditions is desperately needed to stop the sell-off pain which includes a record slaughter of female cattle.
However, the good news is that Australia's beef exports are going gangbusters with total exports lifting by 12pc year-on-year to 98,648 tonnes in April.
An ongoing outbreak of African swine flu (ASF) has China scrambling for meat imports.
Latest forecasts from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) suggest ASF will cut China's pig herd by 20pc.
Meanwhile, ABS slaughter data for March revealed the toll the drought is taking on female cattle numbers which will seriously hamper the ability of Australian producers to rebuild their herds when good seasons return.
Nationally, the adult cattle slaughter in March was up 19pc year-on-year to 734,000 head. Male slaughter fell 3pc year-on-year while female slaughter rose 42pc.
In March the female portion of the adult cattle kill rose to 58.1pc, the highest level ever recorded.
On a 12-month rolling average basis, the figure also set a new record at 52.6pc.
Australian beef exports to China jumped a whopping 62pc year-on-year in April to 20,600 tonnes, a hike Meat and Livestock Australia attributed partly to ASF along with growing demand for premium imported meat in wealthy Chinese households.
In contrast, MLA said exports to Japan totalled 22,100 tonnes in April, back 19pc year-on-year.
Shipments to the US lifted 12pc year-on-year, to 21,600 tonnes on the back of strong demand for grinding beef in the US.
Beef exports to Korea totalled 14,650 tonnes, up 27pc year-on-year despite strong international competition.
Total beef exports for the year ending April climbed 10pc to 1.163 million tonnes with shipments to China soaring by 58pc to 191,395 tonnes with the potential for sales to keep increasing.
For the calendar year to April, Australian beef exports to China rose by 66pc to 72,460 tonnes compared with 87,800 tonnes to Japan (down 7pc) and 79,500 tonnes to the US (up 15pc).
Export market analyst, Simon Quilty, Wangaratta, Vic, said New Zealand was diverting more beef from the US to China with shipments down 25pc year-to-date which had caused a shortage of lean imported meat in America.
Mr Quilty said imported lean beef was now selling for a premium in the US but the high price might also encourage larger imports of cheaper South American meat.
He said China was also trying to buy South American meat with Brazil and Uruguay each grabbing a 22pc share of the China beef import market in January, followed by Argentina (21pc), Australia (17pc) and NZ (14pc).
Mr Quilty also said there were reports of the US cattle herd entering into a liquidation phase in either 2020 or 2021 which would add pressure on prices of imported beef.
"The buying tentacles and influence of China on the global market lately just doesn't seem to be going away," he said.