PRICES paid for trade beef cattle hit an Australian record at the Leongatha VLE Saleyards last Wednesday, July 20 when South Australian premium beef processor, Thomas Foods International of Murray Bridge, paid 379.6¢ per kg liveweight for a pen of “superbly finished” Gippsland Angus steers.
They were among meat processors from three states who descended on Leongatha’s prime sale last week.
Sold on account of Courtney Ferguson and family of Longford near Sale, by the team from Rodwells in Leongatha, including auctioneer Damien Minogue, the price represented another leap forward from the top of 373¢ the previous week.
And prices are likely to stay high, according to Meat and Livestock Australia, at least until October with the $4 per kg price now looking attainable.
According to Damien Minogue, who knocked down the record-breaking pen, there were 12 head in the offering, averaging 555.8kg, and returning an average price of $2109.94 per head for the 379.6¢ per kg liveweight bid price.
Mr Minogue said his client was delighted with the result and the Rodwells’ team chuffed to have helped the producer achieve it.
“They were very pleased, of course,” he said after phoning the client with the good news at lunchtime on Wednesday.
“They breed all the cattle themselves and are very strong supporters of the Leongatha saleyards.
“But anyone who had cattle in the market today would have been pleased.
“We had another pen of 11 Angus steers which made an average of 368¢ per kg or $2694 per head.
“On average, for the 117 bullocks we sold for all our clients today, we averaged 363¢ or an average of $2274 per head and that’s across all of the stock we put up today which would be our best result for sure.
“These would be the best cattle available in Australia today which is why we have processors from three states here; South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Good quality cattle like this are hard to find at the moment.
“The producers can afford to add in some feed to finish them off and with these prices, they’re getting rewarded.
“We’ve never seen the cattle job better and we hope it continues.”
There was no reluctance on the part of the buyers, most of them representing large-scale abattoirs, to keep putting up their hands despite the escalating rates, and a full line-up bidders stayed with the sale throughout.
At times, some local re-stockers moved in to pick up some of the younger cattle and odd lots to go back into the paddock, but they were generally shut out by the trade buyers.
Mark Dwyer, buying for O’Connors, said he’d managed to “get enough” on the day.
“I’m not going to say it’s too high. That’s the way it is but it’s the highest we’ve ever seen in Australia, that’s for sure.
“I guess the butchers just put up their prices accordingly but when a family looks at the alternatives, you can get chicken fillets for around the $8 mark so that’s your competition.”
Porterhouse steak was selling at Rod Spokes’ Leongatha Fresh Meat and Fish last week for $33.99kg.
35 year high, says MLA
MEAT and Livestock Australia said last week the surge in cattle prices was being driven “by tightening supplies over the winter months and a promising seasonal outlook in all cattle growing areas”.
“Cattle prices across the country continue to break records in nominal terms (i.e. in the dollar value of the day). However, after converting to real terms (i.e. adjusting for the effects of inflation over time), cattle prices as of last week were at a 35-year high,” they said.
“Not since the recovery following the 1970s beef crash have cattle prices been as high as they have been in recent weeks, in today’s dollars.
“While the greatest price increases have been in the store market, the strong appreciation has been recorded across all classes of cattle, with the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator up 21 per cent year-on-year, the Western Young Cattle Indicator up 16 per cent, and the National Saleyard Heavy Steer Indicator finishing up 9 per cent.
“For the time being, tight cattle supplies are underpinning prices and should continue to do so throughout the remainder of winter and into spring, given the ‘above average’ rainfall three-month weather outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology for much of the country.
“However, as highlighted in the quarterly projections update released this week, purchasing decisions should also be considered in conjunction with the less favourable global beef trading environment and the eventual growth in cattle supplies in Australia.
“While current prices are at historic highs, a fall will eventually occur, however, it is not clear when this will happen and to what extent.”
MLA is predicting that prices will remain high until October when northern cattle start re-entering the market.
Up, up and away
How ‘Grown Steer’ prices have moved in the past three months.
• July 13, 2016: Prices between 333c and 373c/kg.
• July 6, 2016: Prices from 315c to 352c/kg.
• June 29, 2016: Prices from 305c and 355c/kg.
• June 22, 2016: Prices from 316c and 358c/kg.
• June 15, 2016: Prices from 313c and 338c/kg.
• June 8, 2016: Prices from 291c and 336c/kg.
• June 1, 2016: Prices from 281c and 315c/kg.
• May 25, 2016: Prices from 290c and 329c/kg.
• May 18, 2016: Prices from 292c and 334c/kg.
• May 11, 2016: Prices from 290c and 327c/kg.
• May 4, 2016: Prices from 283c and 309c/kg.
• April 27, 2016: Prices from 272c to 301c/kg.
• April 20, 2016: Prices from 277c to 298c/kg.
• April 13, 2016: Prices from 272c and 298c/kg.
• April 6, 2016: Prices from 274c and 307c/kg.
• March 30, 2016 Prices from 269c to 302c/kg.