China has become a key pillar in world meat trade with an increasing impact on the global market and subsequent price movements in the Australian domestic market. The strong finished cattle prices seen in 2019 have been supported by surging demand in China (underpinned by the ongoing African Swine Fever epidemic) and a favourable Australian dollar.
The ongoing US-China trade war has created uncertainty for the global economy and future demand for red meat. However, broad demand factors in many key export markets are still holding, and with the forecast for Australian cattle supplies to tighten over the next few years, continued support for finished cattle prices is expected.
Store cattle prices have remained steady throughout winter and into spring, with southern regions supporting the north, where conditions are hampering restocker activity. It remains a matter of when, not if, the store market experiences a significant increase, once seasonal conditions improve