Spring lamb price pressure intensifies

The downward price pressure being applied to the lamb trade has intensified, as factories have opted to knock another 15-20c/kg off new-season lamb quotes.

Strong supplies and an ease in the demand for lamb has been blamed for this week’s fall.

Factories are currently offering 520-535c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance bonuses) to secure supplies – a drop of almost 60c/kg on the quotes on offer three weeks ago.

Kildare Chilling lead the way with a price of 535c/kg, Kepak Athleague is currently offering 525c/kg and the two Irish Country Meats’ plants are starting negotiations with farmers at 520c/kg. All of these prices exclude Quality Assurance bonuses.

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 535c/kg + 10c QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 525c/kg + 5c QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 520c/kg + 10c QA;
  • ICM Navan: 520c/kg + 10c QA.

Despite the downward pressure being exerted on the lamb market, cast ewe prices remain largely unchanged from last week. Most processors are offering prices of 260-270c/kg to secure supplies.

Spring lamb supplies drop

Official figures show that spring lamb throughput declined considerably during the week ending June 18, as just 36,328 head were slaughtered in approved sheepmeat export plants.

When compared to the previous week, that’s a drop of 8,522 head or 19%. In addition, figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep-kill database show a considerable fall in cast (ewe and ram) and hogget slaughterings.

During the week ending June 18, some 6,437 cast sheep (ewes and rams) and 4,326 hoggets were slaughtered in the Republic – a combined fall of almost 4,400 head on the week earlier.

This puts the cumulative sheep kill for the year at almost 1.16 million head – a jump of 120,379 head or 12% on the corresponding period in 2016.

Source: Department of Agriculture

Main markets

The sheep trade has eased somewhat in Britain, according to Bord Bia, as demand is being offset by higher supplies.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of around €5.19/kg (dead weight) last week.

In addition, it says, British hogget supplies are up significantly on 2016 levels and good pasture conditions are boosting carcass weights.

Moving away from Britain, the French sheep trade has decreased following the end of Ramadan. Bord Bia says that strong supplies of imported lamb and lower consumption are having a negative impact on the trade.