Busiest period for lamb exports fast approaching – Bord Bia

The busiest time of the year for lamb exports is fast approaching, according to Bord Bia’s Sheepmeat Sector Manager, Declan Fennell.

Speaking to Agriland, Fennell said that the Muslim festival – EID is likely to have a positive impact on the Irish lamb trade in the coming weeks.

Live sheep exports tend to peak in the weeks leading up to EID, he said and last year a total of 32,000 live sheep were exported of which 19,600 head were exported in the lead up to the EID festival, equivalent to 65% of annual live exports

We will see live exports moving in the next couple of weeks and it will certainly firm the trade.

In terms of the factory trade, he also said that we are four-to-five weeks away from the busiest period of the year.

Fennell said that the Muslim festival results in increased demand for lamb on the main Irish export markets and as a result the average weekly kill increases during the month of September.

Irish processors typically slaughter between 57,000-62,000 lambs on a weekly basis, he said, but during the month of September throughput increases by 12-23% to about 70,000 lambs each week.

Irish exports down in 2016

However, Fennell said that the number of live sheep exported from Ireland during the first seven months of 2016 are down on the same time last year.

The Bord Bia Sheepmeat Sector Manager said that just 2,920 live sheep have been exported from Ireland between January and July, down from 4,700 head on the corresponding time in 2015.

Historically, he said the spring lamb trade improved on the back of increased live exports around the time of another Muslim festival – Ramadan.

But, he said over the past two years the number of Irish live sheep exports decreased as there was more lambs of Romanian origin available on the market.

These Romanian live exports filled much of the demand in North Africa and as a result, he said, there was more Spanish lambs available on European markets and these lambs competed directly with Irish lamb exports.