Mixed outlook for new season

A large increase is expected in lambs to be processed this year. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery.
A large increase is expected in lambs to be processed this year. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery.
Dunedin meat processor Silver Fern Farms is expecting the new season starting on October 1 to be mixed across beef, lamb and venison.

Retiring chief executive Dean Hamilton said the beef market was at an interesting point.

Store stock markets appeared overheated, given where SFF expected volumes and schedules to end.

Current finished cattle schedules reflected a shortage of supply, which was typical for this time of  year.

However, once volumes improved, and assuming the currency stayed at current levels, schedules were likely to retreat to more accurately reflect end-market conditions, he said.

Some commentators were pointing towards a recovery in beef volumes out of Australia and the United States after rebuilding periods, something of which SFF would be mindful.China’s demand was increasing but not at the near-term pace of the competing supply, Mr Hamilton said.

"We expect cattle numbers in the coming season to be similar or slightly up on this season’s, with some of the retentions out of the dairy herd last year expected to boost bull and even heifer numbers."

Chinese and United States demand for lamb was strong, he said.

In October, SFF would head into the European chilled supply season, which should hold up farm-gate prices.

Once through that, total return from lamb was expected to decrease, given the greater frozen mix.

SFF would normally expect a $1 a kg "rule of thumb" difference in value from the Christmas chilled period to the main part of the season, everything else being equal, he said.

"We expect lamb numbers to be up this coming season. All the feedback we are receiving is the North Island, in particular, has been good lambing. Volumes may well be up 5% to 10% and back through 20 million lambs nationally processed next season."

Venison markets remained strong, given the lower supply out of New Zealand, Mr Hamilton said.

Market prices in  Europe and the US remained up on last year’s and new premium trim markets in the US were adding to the overall value being realised.

A continuation of those market conditions was expected, he said.

Venison numbers processed were expected to be similar to the current season at about 280,000 to 300,000 as the national herd continued to  rebuild.

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