Interesting 2011-12 for Australian Cattle Markets

AUSTRALIA - The past fiscal year was an interesting one for the cattle market, ranging from near-record high prices for young cattle in December, to prices falling below the five-year average for heavy categories throughout April and May, according to the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 16 July 2012
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Meat & Livestock Australia

However, despite the fluctuations throughout the past 12 months, prices across the four main categories averaged 0-2 per cent higher year-on-year, and 7-13 per cent above the average for the previous five-years.

The main feature across the young cattle categories for the past year was the continuation of the wet season, especially from July 2011 through to March 2012. The favourable seasonal conditions across Australia for much of the fiscal year, with notable exceptions in southern WA and western Victoria, underpinned restocking intentions, with producers retaining cattle to make the most of the abundant feed. This kept supply pressure upon the young cattle markets, while demand was robust, albeit with some softer spots through autumn.

For 2011-12, the benchmark EYCI averaged 390¢/kg cwt, peaking at 428¢/kg cwt in the final trading week of December, and hitting a low of 362.5¢/kg cwt in mid-May. For the heavier cattle categories, a deterioration of demand from Japan and Korea weighed heavily upon prices throughout much of 2012, despite overall supplies remaining tight. With the further influence of an A$ which traded well above parity, and competition from US beef, the national indicator fell to a low of 319¢/kg cwt in May – 12 per cent below the fiscal year peak in December and six per cent below the average for the year (340¢/kg cwt).

Herd rebuilding intentions kept cow supplies tight throughout the year, with the national medium cow indicator averaging 290¢/kg cwt – up slightly on the previous year.

National direct-to-works cattle prices for the fiscal year mirror the saleyard trend, albeit with averages just slightly lower. Direct-to-works prices for heavy steers nationally averaged 328¢/kg cwt – up one per cent year-on-year and equal with the annual high set in 2005-06.

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