Spring lamb trade steadies but markets remain uncertain following Brexit vote

The spring lamb trade has steadied somewhat, but procurement managers are worried about the implications of last week’s Brexit vote.

Spring lamb prices improved slightly and farmers selling lambs can expect to be quoted 490-495c/kg, up 10-15c/kg on last week.

Ewe prices have remained largely unchanged from last week, with most plants now offering 230-240c/kg for cast ewes.

Procurement managers say there is good demand for Irish spring lamb this week, as it is the final week of the Muslim festival Ramadan.

However, a number of procurement managers have indicated that the markets look uncertain in the short term, as changes in the value of Sterling could have a major impact on the Irish sheep trade.

One Procurement Manager said that a weaker Sterling, which has been seen since the results of the referendum became know, could affect the prices paid for Irish sheepmeat in the UK.

He continued to say that a weaker Sterling could mean that Irish lamb makes less on the UK market and this could impact on the returns to Irish farmers.

And, this is important as the UK is the second largest market for Irish sheepmeat, accounting for 28% of all Irish sheepmeat exports in 2015, figures from Bord Bia show.

Another procurement manager added that the only thing certain in the sheep market is ‘uncertainty’ as the true extent of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has yet to be fully recognised.

Spring lamb supplies steady

The number of spring lambs slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved plants also showed some signs of steadying during the week ending June 19.

According to the Department’s sheep kill database, just 41 more spring lambs were slaughtered in Ireland during the week ending June 19 compared to the week before.

However, the number of cast ewes and rams slaughtered jumped 19% during the week ending June 19 compared to the week before, with 6,865 ewes and rams were slaughtered, almost 1,100 head higher than the week before.

Meanwhile, hogget numbers continue to tighten, with just 1,349 head slaughtered in Department approved plants last week. This is 583 head lower than the week before.

Main markets

According to Bord Bia, the British sheep trade was steady last week despite strong supplies.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €5.24/kg deadweight last week.

The French sheepmeat market also remains calm, despite strong supplies of UK lamb being available on the market, Bord Bia reports.

It also shows that promotions continue to focus on forequarter lamb, chops, shoulders and legs, while promotions of imported and halal products have also been reported.

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