THERE’S still plenty of time to cash in on the higher cattle prices as values have been forecast to stay solid for much of 2015.
Buoyant cattle prices forced the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) to a record 451.25 cents a kilogram last week, but analysts suggest rates will now consolidate after the January price surge.
Mecardo analyst Angus Brown tipped the EYCI could hit 500c/kg by Easter, before peaking again during the traditional yearly high in July/August/September.
“It’s not really ordinary times in the cattle market now,” Mr Brown said.
He acknowledged there could be some downside to the market if the country slipped back into widespread drought.
But on the other side of the coin, he said international prices (which had been driving some of the price spike) had a long way to fall before they started affecting Australian cattle prices.
Mr Brown said the falling Australian dollar had also helped ramp up prices.
“So there is no need to panic that prices here are on the wane unless we move back into drought,” he said.
Mecardo analysts already have a few runs of the board after predicting last year the EYCI would hit 450c/kg in 2015. This was at a time when the indicator was trading below 350c/kg.
Meat and Livestock Australia’s predictions have not been worded as strong, but have indicated that for now prices should be steady.
“The forecast dry February may have an impact on markets going forward, but the effects are likely to become apparent only towards the end of the month, especially considering the reasonable rainfall recorded by most during January,” MLA’s Meat and Livestock Weekly report said.
Last week most prime yearling steer categories were dearer than the week before.
MLA data showed yearling steers topped at an estimated 499c/kg (cwt) which returned $1608.
Grown steers generally ranged from 346c/kg to 474c/kg returning a top of $1651 a head.
Cows to slaughter were also still in demand and topped at $1623 and generally the top end in each weight range was in excess of 450c/kg.
At the same time export volumes have also been positive during January.
Australian beef exports started 2015 only three per cent slower than the corresponding period last year according to federal Department of Agriculture figures.
There were 67,537 tonnes (shipped weight) of beef exported during January.
This figure was 31pc higher than the five year average and indicates just how high cattle slaughter is for this time of year.
But, MLA said while the year-on-year decline in exports during January was only minor, it was expected to be a common theme for 2015, considering the unprecedented year it will be compared against.
The US easily remained the primary market for Australian beef exports, at 25,809t, up 87pc year-on-year.
There was big growth in the chilled volumes which more than doubled to 5664t.
The strong trend towards chilled grassfed beef is likely to remain in place for the remainder of the year according to MLA, along with the US being the largest market.
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