Australian beef seasonal outlook 2024: Finding a balance but building forward momentum

The Australian cattle market is in a state of balance, but upside exists toward the end of the year. Currently, the absence of strong demand, the higher herd inventory, and the lack of real liquidation or rebuilding urgency mean cattle prices are more exposed to movements in producer sentiment, which in turn is highly dependent on seasonal conditions.

However, we feel global beef demand, led by the US market, will start to have a stronger influence on the Australian cattle market as the year progresses, providing upside to cattle prices. There are a couple of known unknowns to watch. With a heavily producer-influenced market, any negative seasonal change could see producer sentiment deteriorate and prices drop accordingly. Furthermore, if demand recovery in key Asian markets fails to materialise, our growing production may cause prices to fall.

Given the balanced market and the expectation for stronger demand in the future, the ability to manage cattle numbers and feed availability becomes even more important. Being stuck in a reactionary market – as witnessed in 2023 – can compound any downside impacts. Understanding the sensitivity of the market, we believe it’s essential to operate within the confines of your environment while keeping a view to the future. We anticipate a stronger upside influence later in the year and into 2025. This should help with proactive decision-making and the mitigation of any downside risks.