The lamb trade has remained relatively stable, with most procurement managers opting to stay at last week’s base quotes.

However, there is a considerable amount of variation in lamb quotes across the country, as a 10c/kg difference exists between the highest and lowest base quotes on offer.

Kepak Athleague continues to lead the way and is starting negotiations with farmers at 465c/kg, this is closely followed by Kildare Chilling who is working off 460c/kg.

But the two Irish Country Meats plants, located in Navan and Camolin, continue to offer the lowest base lamb quote of 455c/kg.

However, it must be noted that the price gap between the three processors narrows considerably when the Bord Bia Quality Assurance (QA) bonus is taken into account.

At present, Kepak Athleague is paying a 5c/kg top up on QA lambs, while both Kildare Chilling and ICM are 5c higher at 10c/kg.

This narrows the all-in price gap to just 5c/kg between the three sheepmeat processors.

As has been the case for much of the year, there has been very little movement in ewe quotes with prices generally sitting at the 230-240c/kg mark when QA bonuses are excluded.

Lamb supplies

The number of lambs slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants increased during the week ending November 27.

Official figures show that some 48,431 lambs were slaughtered during the week ending November 27, an increase of 197 head or 0.4% on the week before.

Figures from the Department also show that ewe and ram throughput dropped by 12.8% or 1,268 head on the week before, while the weekly hogget kill declined by 71 head.

All-in-all, when all of the categories are considered, the total number of sheep slaughtered in approved plants fell by 1,076 head or 1.8% on the week ending November 20.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -79 head (-71%)
  • Lambs: +179 head (+0.4%)
  • Ewes and rams: -1,268 head (-12.8%)
  • Total: -1,076 head (-1.8%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British sheep trade remained relatively steady last week, but fluctuations on currency markets are making exports less competitive.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of around 435c/kg last week, it says.

Bord Bia also reports that the French market remains steady, but demand is expected to pick up for legs as the Christmas season approaches.

Retail promotions were limited and were focused on domestically produced legs. Grade 1 Irish lamb made around 525c/kg deadweight last week.