‘Processors have wiped 10% off the value of a lamb in recent weeks’

Recent lamb price cuts in Northern Ireland have been criticised by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), with the organisation pointing out the contrast with rising prices across the sea in Britain.

“Harsh and unfair tactics” used by processors to pull back lamb prices have gone to far, the UFU’s Beef and Lamb Chairman, Crosby Cleland, said.

He added that there is now a pressing need to inject stability back into the market.

“Processors have wiped 10% off the value of a lamb in the last couple of weeks. These tactics are destabilising the market and undermining producer confidence,” the chairman said.

The UFU notes that, in contrast to this, live-weight prices in marts in Britain have risen by at least 10p/kg this week.

Continuing, Crosby said: “This has to raise questions as to why processors here have pulled quotes back to £4/kg (€4.47/kg).” The chairman followed this up by adding that processors needed to be transparent and explain why prices are lower here than elsewhere in the UK.

“Processors often claim they need more in-spec lambs to meet customer requirements, but they’re not sending out the right signals to achieve this.

Price stability in June and early July gave producers the confidence to pick lambs at the right time. This has now been eroded by price cuts.

Cleland noted that the result of this is greater uncertainty, which will undermine efforts to ensure consistent quality. He concluded stating: “This can be reversed if processors take some responsibility and bring stability back into the market.”

Rams for export

Yesterday (August 2), it was revealed that an Irish company has agreed terms to export 10,000 ram lambs over the coming weeks.

The Wicklow Calf Company, operated by the Scallan family in Co. Wicklow, has secured a contract to export 10,000 lambs for the Muslim festival of EID and buying will commence this month.

Well-fleshed ram lambs – with tails – weighing 40-47kg are required to fill the contract.