Factories succeed in dropping spring lamb prices to under €5/kg

It appears that sheep factories have succeeded in their quest to drop spring lamb prices to below €5/kg. As it stands, most lamb buyers are offering a base price of 480-490c/kg to secure supplies.

Despite quotes falling below the 500c/kg mark, a degree of stability is now present in the market and most prices are largely unchanged from last week.

This stability will be welcomed by many finishers who witnessed the returns generated by their lambs fall by over 45c/kg in recent weeks. On a 21kg lamb carcass, that’s a fall of nearly €9.50.

Procurement managers have blamed difficult market conditions in recent weeks as the primary reason for this fall.

This comes as Irish processors continue to compete with UK-origin lamb on the French market – a market where consumption has remained rather sluggish so far this year.

This week, Kildare Chilling leads the way with an all-in price of 500c/kg (490c/kg + 10c/kg Quality Assurance Scheme bonus).

Following in second place is Kepak Athleague. The Roscommon-based processor is currently offering an all-in price of 495c/kg (490c/kg + 5c/kg Quality Assurance Scheme bonus).

As has been the case in recent weeks, the two Irish Country Meats plants rest firmly at the bottom of the table when it comes to spring lamb quotes.

The processor, with facilities in Navan and Camolin, is currently offering an all-in price of 490c/kg (480c/kg + 10c/kg Quality Assurance Scheme bonus).

Like the stability witnessed in the spring lamb market, cast ewe prices also remain relatively unchanged from last week and most buyers are starting negotiations with farmers at 270c/kg.

Supplies

There was a marked reduction in the number of spring lambs slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants during the week ending July 30.

In total, some 58,712 sheep were processed during the final week of July – a reduction of 2,648 head or 4.3% on the levels witnessed during the previous week.

This reduction occurred as spring lamb throughputs declined by 4,626 head or 8.8% – most likely as a result of the lower factory prices on offer during this time.

However, there was a significant jump in the number of cast (ewe and ram) and hogget slaughterings during the week ending July 30.

Just over 10,400 ewes and rams were slaughtered in approved export plants – an increase of 1,828 head or 21% on the previous week – while hogget numbers jumped by 67 head or 33% on the quantity processed during the previous week.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending July 30):
  • Hoggets: 269 head (+67 head or +33%);
  • Spring lambs: 47,917 head (-4,626 head or -8.8%);
  • Ewes and rams: 10,443 head (+1,828 head or +21%);
  • Total: 58,712 head (-2,648 head or -4.3%).

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British sheep trade eased somewhat last week. This is on the back of reduced throughputs and demand.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of around 488c/kg (deadweight), it says.

Looking at France, Bord Bia said the trade remained slow last week and most of the activity occurred in the south of the country.

As has been the case so far this year, consumption remained sluggish and an abundance of imported lamb continues to remain on the market. However, it is hoped that the trade will see some improvement before the end of the month.

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