Australia’s beef industry now has a once-in-a generation opportunity to shape its future as the country’s historically-low breeding cattle numbers recover gradually in the year ahead, Rabobank states in its newly-released Beef Seasonal Outlook for 2021.
The Green Grass and Empty Pens report says Australia’s breeding cattle inventory is beginning to recover from the lowest levels seen in more than 30 years on the back of highly improved seasonal conditions. The Australia Beef industry is now in a “unique position” to pursue and reassess its future.
“A number of challenges currently confront the Australian beef industry,” the report states,“including high cattle prices for those trying to build stocks, low supplies and China trade access.”
“Decisions taken this year are not just about whether to restock at high prices, but also about which genetics, productions system attributes, feeding regimes, supply chains and end customers are needed to build a sustainable basis for the business in the future”, according to Rabobank senior animal proteins analyst and report author Angus Gidley-Bard. “Australia’s position in the global protein world needs to be considered in rebuilding the herd”, Gidley-Bard adds.
Australian cattle slaughter for 2021 is forecast to be 6.7 million head; this represents a drop of six percent from last year.
Overall, the report’s outlook for the year ahead will be characterised by very limited cattle supplies. This will provide strong support for cattle prices, but also entails ongoing scarcity for restocking and fattening as well as challenge capital efficiency, with many feedlots and plants running below capacity.