Mixed results in the spring lamb market

Although the spring lamb trade steadied somewhat last week, mixed messages have been circulating throughout factory lairages this week; some processors have moved to drop spring lamb quotes by 10c/kg.

The chief offender in this regard is Irish Country Meats, which has opted to offer its farmer-customers a base price of 580c/kg when it comes to commencing negotiations – down 10c/kg on last week.

Elsewhere, it remains pretty much unchanged for Kepak Athleague and Kildare Chilling; both plants are offering a base of 590c/kg (excluding Quality Assurance (QA) bonuses).

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Irish Country Meats Camolin: 580c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Irish Country Meats Navan: 580c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 590c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 590c/kg.

Although factories are quoting 580-590c/kg, deals are being struck at much higher prices and top prices of 620-630c/kg (excluding QA and producer group bonuses) have been muted over recent days.

When it comes to marketing ewes, factories have opted to maintain quotes at last week’s levels and are commencing negotiations at 280-300c/kg with farmers.

Supplies

During the week ending June 18, some 43,965 sheep were processed in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants. Although this is a drop of 18% on the previous week, the impact of the bank holiday Monday has to be considered in the reduced throughput number.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending June 10):
  • Hoggets: 6,215 head (-3,507 head or -36.1%);
  • Spring lambs: 30,579 head (-3,270 head or -9.7%);
  • Ewes and rams: 7,171 head (-2,861 head or -28.5%);
  • Total: 43,965 head (-9,643 head or -18%).

Figures from the department also show that just over 1.16 million sheep were processed this year – a climb of 6,335 head or 1% on the corresponding period in 2017.

Throughput increases were witnessed in the hogget (+18,151 head) and ewe and ram (+34,858 head) categories, while spring lamb numbers have actually declined by 46,323 head.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 817,026 head (+18,151 head or +2%);
  • Spring lambs: 154,522 head (-46,323 head or -23%);
  • Ewes and rams: 192,298 head (+34,858 head or +22%);
  • Total: 1,163,941 head (+6,335 head or +1%).