Lamb prices are showing the first signs of dropping as two processors have opted to drop the quoted price for this week by 5c/kg.

Both Irish Country Meats and Kildare Chilling have opted to reduce lamb quotes by 5c/kg, and are now beginning negotiations with farmers at 450c/kg and 455c/kg respectively.

Both prices exclude a 10c/kg Quality Assurance Bonus.

Meanwhile, Kepak Athleague has opted to maintain prices at last week’s level of 465c/kg+5c/kg QA bonus, but this quote is for Monday and Tuesday only.

Procurement managers have blamed a fall in demand for this week’s drop and with much of the orders filled for Christmas, it could be the beginning of a time of weaker lamb and sheepmeat prices.

Lamb buyers have already warned that the lamb market will be difficult in January, as a weak Sterling combined with a late Easter looks set to have a negative affect on the trade.

This was further backed up by the Teagasc Outlook for 2017, which suggests that lamb prices will be 5% lower in 2017.

However, despite the dip in lamb quotes this week, ewe prices have remained at a constant level, with most plants opting to work off a base price of 230-240c/kg.

Supplies look to be falling

Some 1,076 fewer sheep were slaughtered in approved export plants during the week ending December 4, figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show.

In total, for the week ending December 4, some 57,139 sheep were slaughtered in Irish plants, a decrease of 1.8% on the week ending November 27.

Official figures show that the majority of this fall occurred due to a drop in ewe and ram throughput, which declined by 12.8% or 1,268 head, while hogget throughput dropped by 71% to just 32 head.

Meanwhile, the number of lamb slaughterings increased on the week before with a throughput of 38,431 head, up by 197 head or 0.4% on the week ending November 27.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -79 head (-71%)
  • Lambs: +197 head (+0.4%)
  • Ewes and rams: -1,268 head (-12.8%)
  • Total: -1,076 head (-1.8%)


Source: Department of Agriculture

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, a more buoyant sheep trade was reported on the back of higher demand. The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of around 432c/kg last week.

Bord Bia also reports that the French market remains steady with little further changes expected before the end of the year.

Retail promotions were most prevalent and focused mainly on imported roasts, legs and forequarter cuts.