SYDNEY, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- The price of Australian beef and cattle is set to soar for the next two years as the national herd hits a 20-year low.
The latest quarterly update from Meat & Livestock Australia says the nation's "severely depleted" cattle supply has plummeted by about 3 million heads to 26.2 million in the past three years, with herd numbers in western Queensland and New South Wales shrinking by up to 40 percent, the Australian Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
Slaughter rates in the eastern states are also expected to drop from the record highs of two years ago to a predicted 120,000 in 2017, the same level as 2006 when the industry was trying to rebuild herd numbers.
MLA market information manager Ben Thomas in a statement said local cattle prices are currently "moving in a different direction to those globally."
However, the reduction in slaughter rates will help ensure more calves are born next year, with increased beef production to follow in 2018.
"All things considered, it is unlikely that Australian cattle prices will return to pre-2013 levels, but rather establish a new level somewhere in between existing long-term averages and the current record highs," he said.
"In the meantime though, there will be extremely tough competition for the limited numbers available."
Low cattle numbers hindered live exports this year, with a decline of 1.05 million propped up only by a localised increase to the herd in Western Australia.