Live export cattle prices end year on a high, feeder steers to Indonesia reaching $3.25 per kg – ABC Rural

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Northern cattle producers are ending the year on a high, with feeder steers shipped to Indonesia via Darwin jumping to $3.25 a kilogram for the first time this year.

The last few months of 2018 has seen a surge of live export shipments from the Darwin port, which is expected to surpass 400,000 head of cattle exported for the calendar year, which is well up on last year’s total of about 308,000.

Frontier International’s Cameron Jenkins said the demand from Indonesia had been noticeable.

“There’s been some renewed vigour in the market over in Indonesia, although people are a bit sceptical on how long that will be lived,” he told ABC Rural.

Feeder steer prices for the Indonesian market bottomed out at $2.60/kg earlier this year, before recovering in August and returning to the $3/kg mark.

Mr Jenkins said while cattle producers were now enjoying a lift in prices, the market conditions for exporters were still tough.

“I think 2017 was a bit dire for most, so 2018 has seen an increase in volumes for most exporters.

“Financially it’s still difficult though, with high domestic prices making it tough and our traditional market of Indonesia is still suffering from a secular shift in demand with the importation of Indian buffalo meat.”

Mr Jenkins said if western Queensland and other drought-affected regions were to receive significant rain over the summer, it would have “a very large impact” on cattle prices in 2019, as exporters would be competing with producers looking to restock.

The price for heavy steers shipped to Vietnam via the Townsville port is ending the year at around $3 a kilogram.

The year that was for cattle exports

Nationwide, the live cattle industry has already surpassed the one million head mark exported for 2018, with export numbers from January to November sitting at 1,007,805 head.

ABC Rural asked the Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association (NTLEA) to name some of its highlights and challenges for 2018, to which it replied.



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