High beef prices expected to hold

Rabobank agricultural analyst Genevieve Steven expects beef prices to remain high well into next...
Rabobank agricultural analyst Genevieve Steven expects beef prices to remain high well into next year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
High beef prices show no sign of slowing as cattle numbers come under pressure globally.

Demand remains strong, with Rabobank expecting supplies will tighten from a smaller United States herd, sluggish herd rebuilding in Australia after its drought and export disruptions from Brazil and Argentina.

Agricultural analyst Genevieve Steven said the global supply and demand imbalance had contributed to record New Zealand beef prices over the spring.

"It’s been a cold, slow start to spring, but pricing has been anything but cold, setting new seasonal records and driving up slaughter numbers.

"With Brazil suspended from the Chinese market and Australian supplies down, the lower global availability of beef has supported demand from the US and China — our

two largest beef export markets."

She said there had been increased demand for New Zealand beef from other Asian markets, especially Japan, where beef exports increased by 65% in the third quarter of the year.

The North Island bull price lifted above $6.50 a kilogram carcass-weight at the end of October, setting a seasonal record.

Ms Steven said pricing was expected to remain elevated into next year.

"We anticipate ongoing strong demand from China and the US over coming months,which will help support prices at current levels. "However, the extent to which farmers are able to capitalise on the strong returns will largely be determined by the number of stock available in paddocks."

Rabobank said United States beef production was shrinking, mainly because of drought across the western states, with beef cow numbers expected to be down 2.5% next year as a result of increased slaughtering.

Despite this, the US was expected to increase exports by 2% to 4% next year, particularly to China.

"With China’s beef imports continuing to grow, import demands from Japan and South Korea remaining firm, and US import requirements increasing, the stage is set for Brazil and other exporters, like New Zealand, to increase their shipped volumes," Ms Steven said.

Covid-19 challenges are expected to remain in Europe with global shipping disruptions likely pushing port and freight costs to "stratospheric levels" through to next year.

 - tim.cronshaw@alliedpress.co.nz

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