Lamb prices stabilise but trade continues to remain difficult

Lamb prices have stabilised somewhat with most processors maintaining prices at last week’s level, with base quotes of 440-445c/kg.

In recent weeks, lamb prices have taken a considerable knock, falling from highs of 460c/kg in the corresponding week in September.

On a 21kg lamb carcass, this is a price drop of up to €4/head.

However, the downward pressure of prices seems to have abated for the time being with most processors maintaining quotes at last week’s level.

Kepak Athleague continue to lead the way, in terms of price, with the processor offering a base price of 445c/kg, while both the Irish Country Meats’ and Kildare Chilling operations are working off a base price of 440c/kg, but the Kildare Chilling price is for Monday only.

Base lamb prices:
  • ICM Camolin: 440c/kg
  • ICM Navan: 440c/kg
  • Kepak Athleague: 445c/kg
  • Kildare Chilling: 440c/kg

Ewe prices have also remained at similar levels to last week, with the majority of plants now working off a base price of 220-230c/kg for suitably fleshed ewes.

Procurement managers have also suggested that the trade for Irish sheepmeat continues to remain difficult, with falling demand on the Continent and a weaker Sterling adding pressure to prices.

Sheep supplies

Falling factory prices have failed to stop the flow of lamb supplies in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants.

In recent weeks, lamb prices have weakened considerably, but the falling farmgate price has failed to reduce the number of lambs coming forward for slaughter, with the weekly lamb kill increasing by 0.5% or 241 head during the week ending October 16.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database also show that ewe and ram throughput has been on the rise.

During the week ending October 16, Irish processors slaughtered 12,138 head of ewes and rams – an increase of 47 head or 0.4% on the week before.

Given the rise in lamb and cast throughput, the total weekly kill also posted a 0.5% rise on the week before with throughput up by 288 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Lambs: +48,502 head (+4.7%)
  • Ewes: +12,128 head (+4.2%)
  • Total: +60,740 head (+3%)

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, British lamb supplies continue to remain relatively strong, but the weakening Sterling continues to make UK lamb exports more competitive.

The SQQ live price for lamb and England and was made the equivalent of around 387c/kg deadweight last week.

Bord Bia also reports that there has been little change in demand in the French sheepmeat market, where retail promotions focused mainly on imported and domestically produced product including chops, legs and forequarters.