Spring lamb and hogget quotes ease as buyers are slow to switch over to lamb

Both spring lamb and hogget quotes have dropped this week, as sheepmeat buyers are slow to make to switch to new season lamb.

A number of factories have dropped the quoted hogget price by 10c/kg on last week’s level, while the base price for spring lambs has dropped by a further 20-30c/kg to 590-600c/kg.

Last week, a number of factories moved to cut spring lamb prices by 20c/kg from a base price of 640c/kg, so over the past two weeks a 20kg spring lamb carcass has dropped by €8.

Irish Country Meat’s (ICM) Group Procurement Manager James Smith said that the fall in prices has occurred as many of Ireland’s main lamb buyers are still purchasing hoggets.

He said that cheaper hoggets in the UK is also effecting the trade, which is also making the spring lamb market difficult on the continent.

Smith also said that the quality of Irish hoggets has dropped in recent weeks as the hogget season is coming to a close.

Base prices:
  • ICM Camolin: Spring lambs 600c/kg, hoggets 530c/kg
  • ICM Navan: Spring lambs 600c/kg, hoggets 530c/kg
  • Kildare Chilling: Spring lambs 590c/kg, hoggets 530c/kg
  • Kepak Athleague: Hoggets 540c/kg

However, despite the movement in hogget price, the ewe price remains unchanged with plants offering 290-300c/kg for these lots.

Sheep kill

The number of spring lambs slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants increased during the week ending April 10.

According to the latest figures from the Department, spring lamb throughput increased by almost 1,000 head during the week ending April 10, up 80% on the week before.

However, figures from the Department’s sheep kill data indicate that the hogget kill continues to tighten, with throughput back by 956 head or 2.8% last week compared to the week earlier.

There has also been a marked increase in the number of cast ewes and rams slaughter, figures from the Department show, with the cast kill increasing by 10% (+479 head).

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British sheep trade has weakened due to higher numbers appearing on the market last week.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of around €5.55/kg last week, it shows.

On the continent, the French sheepmeat trade was stable due to a rise in consumer demand. New Zealand and Spanish lamb also had very little of an impact on the French market, it shows.

Bord Bia reports that the latest production information from New Zealand is pointing towards some decrease in production due to reduced throughput.

However, it reports that new season chilled exports of lamb from New Zealand have increased this year, but this is likely to ease in the coming months due to lower supplies.