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South American Cattle Prices Stabilise

31 May 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

SOUTH AMERICA - South American cattle price stabilised this week, following weeks of declining prices. Brazilian, Argentinean and Paraguayan steer prices were all steady, while Uruguay was the only market to continue the decline, according to analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia.

An overall tighter supply of slaughter ready cattle helped to neutralise the negative pressure on steer price in Brazil.

In Sao Paulo state, steer prices have averaged 323US¢/kg cwt so far in May. In contrast, wholesale beef prices were down mainly as a result of the lower than expected sales for the period, with hindquarter prices in Sao Paulo state reportedly cheaper at 383US¢/kg.

After consecutive weeks of prices falling, Paraguayan steer price seemed to be stable, averaging 285US¢/kg last week; while in Argentina steer export (480 kg) price averaged 341US¢/kg cwt. Despite the pressure on prices, Uruguayan steer price remain the highest in South America, averaging 370US¢/kg cwt.

The sustained growth in beef demand in Asia has helped to facilitate an increase in South American beef exports to the regions on 2013, especially to Hong Kong. With total beef imports up 71 per cent year-on-year, to 69,912 tonnes for the first quarter of 2013 (GTA), Hong Kong has become the second largest major destination in Asia for Brazilian beef and the fourth largest for Paraguayan beef.

Brazilian beef exports to Hong Kong during the first quarter of 2013 increased 100% year-on-year, to 46,463 tonnes - along with the largest volume for offal exports since 2002. Offal shipments to Hong Kong rose 10% year-on-year, to 34,846 tonnes swt for the same period.

Underpinning the growth in Paraguayan beef exports in 2013, shipments to Hong Kong for the first quarter of 2013 surged five-fold on the previous year, to 1,975 tonne.

For the same period, Argentinean beef exports increased 15% year-on-year, to 403 tonnes.

In contrast, Uruguayan beef exports decreased 89% for the same period, at 160 tonnes.

Also contributing to the increase in Hong Kong beef imports during the first quarter of 2013 was shipments from the US, up 162 per cent year-on-year, to 20,017 tonnes.

Interestingly, the countries with significant growth in shipments to Hong Kong so far in 2013, Brazil, the US and Paraguay, are currently restricted in shipping beef to China.

Australian beef export to Hong Kong for the first four months of 2013 are down 37 per cent year-on-year, at only 1,386 tonnes.

According to MAPA (Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply Department), Brazilian cattle slaughter during April increased 15 per cent year-on-year, to 2.04 million head. Underpinning the surge in throughout for the period was the significant higher slaughter numbers registered in Mato Grosso state, Meat and Livestock reports.

The larger number of finished cattle, combined with additional female numbers also contributed to slaughter in Mato Grosso increasing 10 per cent year-on-year, to 406,368 head. Female slaughter accounted for 53 per cent of the total.

While the national Brazilian steer price has been steady in recent weeks, the price in Mato Grosso state decreased last week, averaging 278US¢/kg.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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