Beef losing ground overseas

Stock and property: Local stock and station agent Bill Tatt discusses the latest industry news from around the world and across the region. Photo: File

Stock and property: Local stock and station agent Bill Tatt discusses the latest industry news from around the world and across the region. Photo: File

Reports filtering out of international trading in beef show that the Australian product is rapidly losing ground with regards to price competitiveness in some of our major export destinations.

Take South Korea for example where one of the world’s great beef retailing companies namely Costco has in recent days shifted their allegiance to American beef thus taking some 15,000 tonnes away from Australian supplies. Without any doubt this is a major set-back for Australian producers.

While experts agree there may be some fringe issues regarding this loss, basically the deal is about price. Other influencing factors include the dollar being 6c up since the start of the year, cattle prices in the USA have declined significantly as herd numbers have surged to 93.6 million head.

Since the BSE scares finished, American exports to South Korea have gained momentum and in 2016 were at 180,000 tonnes, up 42 per cent year on year. The South Korean trend to consume more beef continues unabated with 10.1 kg per person being consumed in 2016. This is an increase of one third since 2009.

Korean consumers are much more comfortable these days about health status surrounding American beef. With all beef sold to Korea being traded in cents/pounds, the pricing difference appears to be in the range of 30 to 70 c/lb between US and Australian beef. Australian beef exporters are already tipping a grid price drop certainly next week if it has not already occurred.

Closer to home Dubbo at its prime sale last Thursday scanned 3770 head with most cattle carrying plenty of weight and finish. In a market quoted as being considerably softer some major feed lot orders did not operate.

There were a number of pens of cattle from the fire ravaged districts and buyers to their credit gave these vendors their best shot under very difficult marketing conditions.

Grown steers were quoted 5c/kg cheaper, best heavy heifers lost 8 to 12c/kg. Cows lost a couple of cents with very best cows exceeding 238c/kg. Young cattle fared worst of all losing 15 to 20c/kg in places. Dubbo agents and their clients are still not filling out the National Vendor Declaration (NVD) correctly. While this is very annoying for agents staff,  in reality the guilt and the problem lies with the producer.

The form as it stands seems fairly straightforward and should not cause any serious hassle. Nevertheless the authorities tell us that Dubbo as a major receival centre for all types of livestock has a 24 per cent fail rate.

The prime offenders seem to be sheep traders who fail to list all tags associated with the offending draft.

Another problem that the writer has noticed is the lack of advance preparation before loading the stock in regards to the NVD. If the carrier needs to be gone for another consignment and he and the vendor start to rush the completion of the forms mistakes may occur at this point in time.

At completion of loading total numbers, drivers etc. along with one or two other minute details should be all that is left to do.