Beef cattle in market pens© Tim Scrivener

Beef prices have fallen sharply over the past two weeks, with the R4L steer average losing 6.5p/kg, to 351.3p/kg in the week to 12 December.

The all-steer average lost 7.1p/kg over the same period, to 339.3p/kg – 16.3p below the same time last year.

“Reports suggest that as Christmas draws nearer, the balance has tipped into processors’ favour,” said a report by AHDB Beef and Lamb.

“The adequate numbers in the pipeline has definitely cooled the trade, with processors now past their peak procurement period for Christmas.”

The latest report by analyst Rabobank predicted that tight global supplies would support prices in 2016 as demand was expected to remain firm.

See also: More on market prices

“China and the US will be the main import markets to watch in 2016 – in particular the strength of demand, given high prices,” it said.

Australia, Brazil, India and the US would be the main exporters, with Brazil expected to access the US fresh beef market in 2016, which would also facilitate entry to other markets, added the report.

“But after consecutive years of record production and exports, Australian cattle supplies tightened considerably in October and November.”