Hot, dry weather is expected to hit Australia’s largest cattle producing region over the next three months, potentially curbing the beef industry’s recovery from multi-year drought in the world’s No.4 exporter of the meat. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology on Thursday said the country’s east coast had an 80-percent chance of above average temperatures in the coming three months, with just a 35-percent chance of exceeding average rainfall. Australia’s cattle industry is rebuilding after a three-year drought drove the size of the national herd to at least a 20-year low.
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The government has been pushing to shift the economy away from its reliance on mining, with beef one of Australia’s main rural exports.
“A dry summer will push domestic prices down as it will remove quite quickly restocking demand,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank.
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Australia’s northeast coast accounts for more than a third of its annual red meat exports of around 1 million tonnes.
However, analysts said wet weather across the country in recent months meant that farmers would have enough pasture and feed crops to avoid mass slaughtering as long as the dry conditions did not last too long.
Australia’s chief commodity forecaster earlier this year lowered its estimate for beef exports by nearly 7 percent – opening the door to international competitors such as Brazil to expand shipments to markets such as China, a market Australia had almost exclusively supplied as recently as 2014.