Australia agribusiness May 2024: Wet or dry, planting is underway

Here are the main highlights for some of Australia’s key commodities and economic influences for this month. The full report provides an overview of the developments to watch in the upcoming weeks.

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Wheat and barley: May is the key month for determining yields in Europe and the Black Sea’s winter wheat varieties. Market volatility is expected as prices will swing according to what the rainfall radar indicates. Australian prices may follow a different trend if the late May rainfall does not come.

Canola: The vegetable oil market is chasing price balance amid an imbalance of oilseed meal and oil demand. This stretches crushers’ margins and might cause a larger carryover than initially expected.

Dairy: Milk production in Australia continues to show signs of sustained recovery. So far this season, through the end of March, milk supply has increased by 3.1%, with growth across all regions. This trend should continue into 2024/25, albeit at a modest rate.

Beef: Prices continue to track sideways. Although a forecast of drier conditions in May could see prices ease a little, we believe seasonal forecasts into June and July should continue to support prices at current levels.

Sheepmeat: Lamb prices are starting to split. Slaughter-weight lambs are holding steady while restocker and merino lamb prices have started to drift down again. This could be a positive sign that consumer demand is returning to support slaughter-weight lamb prices.

Cotton: ICE #2 Cotton futures collapsed to 18-month lows as funds quickly exited their massive net long position over the course of April in anticipation of a strong global 2024/25 supply outlook and sluggish demand.

Wool: Wool prices continue to hold at existing levels amid indications that clothing demand may be on the rise, leading to a lift in industry sentiment.

Consumer foods: The latest retail trade data for March highlighted an ongoing slowdown in Australian household expenditure on food. Quarterly food price inflation moderated in March and should continue this trend in the coming months.

Farm inputs: Rabobank has revised its forecast on the RBA cash rate to include two more 25 basis point rate hikes this year, in August and November. We believe that the RBA is at risk of deviating materially from its projected path for inflation and unemployment, making it harder to justify Australia’s comparatively low cash rate.

Energy and freight: Brent crude oil rose again in April to mark the fourth-straight month of gains, but has since fallen substantially to USD 83/bbl. Slower-than-expected growth in the US and de-escalation in the Middle East pressure prices.

  • Stefan Vogel

    General Manager – RaboResearch Australia & New Zealand
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  • Angus Gidley-Baird

    Senior Analyst – Animal Protein
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  • Emma Higgins

    Senior Analyst – Agriculture
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  • Jen Corkran

    Senior Analyst – Animal Protein
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  • Michael Harvey

    Senior Analyst – Dairy & Consumer Foods
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  • Anna Drake

    Sustainability Analyst
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  • Pia Piggott

    Analyst – Associate Analyst
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  • Vítor Caçula Pistóia

    Grains & Oilseed Analyst
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