Livestock Market Insights
14th Feb 2023
This month’s blog comes from Andrew Hosken principal of Hosken Livestock and Property Consultancy, Tamworth. Andrew has been an agent covering the entire Eastern seaboard over the past 40 years in operational and senior management positions. His supply network and end-user contacts are extensive. StockCo appreciates his input and his gathered snippets from various sources are well worth considering. Andrew also has a long-term relationship with one of the leading developers of the Speckle Park breed, Minnamurra Speckle Park.
Andrew has noted the following comments or conjecture are his musings and may vary in some timing or accuracy. He is always happy to receive calls to discuss or comment.
Offshore positives remain with increased demand from China and discussions around tariff softening. The US prices are starting to rise after an extended period of drought supply pressure.
The Australian beef industry remains in a medium-term positive outlook with staffing, shipping, and developing carbon/packaging programs the main concerns at this time.
We will not see the producer driven highs of last year, but livestock will remain a strong and vibrant marketplace as supply, demand and quality rebalance.
I believe parts of the beef complex have plateaued. Interesting that a number of unrelated plants are happily booking space with prices set weekly mainly unchanged. This is indicating some comfort in trading at those levels. It appears that speciality grass programs, breed /brand programs, cow and better local quality trade carcass are sitting at those levels now.
Abattoirs and feedlots remain blocked up getting kills. There is a variation between operators but the effects of the past few years of COVID difficulties, huge cost impacts, extreme prices and international uproar remain.
A few local anecdotes include~
Feedlot exit numbers are starting to move again but most are well stocked with some up to 70 days past the delivery date, blocking further intake. Most feedlots have wound intake weight specifications back considerably as they are already over-supplied with heavy cattle to exit and probably won’t buy any further heavy steers until kills catch up. Most large feedlots have heavy cattle presently backed up 6-8 weeks for kills.
Supermarkets remain at 790-850c presently but are way oversubscribed and only luck will find extra kill space. All are remaining at strict kill numbers as consumer demand remains static with meat now seen as a luxury rather than a staple at present prices.
Gippsland, Central and Northern Victoria and Eastern NSW all have plants managed by influential long-term operators reopening or increasing in the near future. These include Monbeef Cooma, AMG Cootamundra, JBS Cobram, TFI Bourke and Murray Bridge. As well as considerable plant upgrades across many processing facilities. All this investment paints a positive picture for future demand and with staffing additional processing capacity.
Busloads of offshore workers shopping in Cobram (mutton) prior to JBS reopening have been a positive talking point for the community. Comments of significant numbers of o/seas workers heading to Southern Queensland plants are also evident. All need training and a settling-in period however this long-awaited influx is just what the industry needed.
There are a number of staff changes and shifts in livestock purchasing of large operators which shows the importance of maintaining strong relationships with buyers as an agent or vendor.
The Southern markets appear easier at present after heavy north-western scattered storms through WA, NT, Nthn NSW and Qld.
At StockCo we are continually speaking to producers, agents, livestock production advisers, processors, and feedlots. Understanding the livestock industry is what we do, and our team are always available for a chat.