Spring lamb prices improve as numbers tighten

Some improvement has been witnessed in the spring lamb trade and factory buyers have opted to increase quotes by 5-15c/kg.

This comes as numbers tightened considerably during the second half of last week and, given this, factories are keen to ensure an even kill this week.

Most plants are now offering 530-545c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance bonuses) this week – a marked increase on the 520-535c/kg on offer last week.

Kildare Chilling (540c/kg + 10c/kg QA) and Kepak Athleague (545c/kg + 5c/kg QA) are standing side-by-side when it comes to an all-in price.

But, the two Irish Country Meats’ plants are offering farmers an all-in price of 540c/kg (530c/kg + 10c/kg QA). On a 20kg lamb carcass, that’s a price difference of €2 when compared to the above mentioned plants.

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kildare Chilling: 540c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 545c/kg + 5c/kg QA;
  • ICM Camolin: 530c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • ICM Navan: 530c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Despite the movement in lamb price, the ewe trade remains relatively unchanged from last week. Most plants are now offering 260-270c/kg to secure supplies of well-fleshed ewes.

Supplies

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show that there was a slight increase in the total number of sheep slaughtered during the week ending July 2.

In total, some 58,511 sheep were processed in approved export plants – an increase of 629 head or 1.1% on the previous week.

However, there was actually a small decrease in the number of spring lambs processed. Likewise, some 584 fewer hoggets were slaughtered during the week ending July 2.

These reductions mean that cast slaughterings (ewes and rams) accounted for most of the increase in throughput witnessed during the final week of June / first week of July.

Department figures show that cast slaughterings increased by 1,197 head or 17.3% on the previous week’s levels.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending July 2):
  • Hoggets: 958 head (-584 head or -37.9%);
  • Spring lambs: 49,408 head (-6 head or 0%);
  • Ewes and rams: 8,123 head (+1,197 head or +17.3%);
  • Total: 58,511 head (+629 head or +1.1%).

Main markets

The British sheep trade remained steady last week, according to Bord Bia, and the SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of 542c/kg (dead weight).

Looking at France, the trade continued to remain slow last week, Bord Bia reports. This has been coupled with an oversupply of imported lamb being available on the market.

It also says that limited retail promotions took place last week and this focused on imported chops, legs of lamb and forequarter cuts.