Things get tough for beef

Beef traders in Korea, the US and Japan are all reporting difficult market conditions due to the uncertainty created by the global financial turmoil, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

MLA has reported that beef demand in Korea has been declining due to the currency fluctuations between US dollar and Korean won, and food safety concerns among Korean consumers.

In the US, according to MLA, a doom and gloom sentiment prevails, with considerable uncertainty remaining due to volatile currency movements and expectations of a significant decline in beef demand.

And in Japan, MLA reported that Australian beef export prices (in US dollars) fell substantially last week, with a 13% decline in grassfed fullsets and 6% in shortfed fullsets, in a slow trading market that is adjusting to recent falls in the Aussie dollar.

In Korea, wholesale prices US product decreased last week with Korean importers saying that some US product has been sold at low prices because of decreased beef demand and increasing stock levels.

Australian wholesale prices fluctuated last week due to the volatile purchasing behaviour from Korean importers.

But MLA has said that in light of the continuing food safety concerns of Korean consumers, the positioning of Australian beef under the Hoju Chunjung Woo label (meaning ‘Australian beef clean and safe’) remains highly relevant.

In the US imported beef market prices were also on the decline last week, with trading positions remaining short as buyers take a hand-to-mouth approach and scale back interest in forward trading.

MLA explained that while there is much concern within the US cattle industry of the extent to which domestic cattle prices will decline, particularly fed cattle, the lower value manufacturing beef trade is likely to fare better.

Stocks of frozen Australian beef — particularly trimmings that had been bought at peak prices — are reportedly high in Japan, resulting in reduced inquiry.

Rather than creating greater demand, the fall in the Aussie dollar has so far triggered procrastination in the Japanese wholesale market, as end-users wait for Australian beef prices to come down further.

Chilled wholesale beef prices were mostly unchanged or slightly down from last week, while frozen brisket prices reduced 3% from last week.

— Fairfax

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