The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is forecasting the likelihood of a tightness in lamb supplies for the British Christmas trade. The organisation predicts that there will be British lambs available for slaughter, but there will be likely be supply issues caused by a marked reduction in imports from New Zealand.
AHDB red meat analyst, Rebecca Wright, says that in a normal year, New Zealand would expect six or seven ships to deliver lamb to the UK via Asia in time for the Christmas chilled market. There are just three ships expected to transport lamb to the UK for the 2021 season, with the AHDB forecasting that one of these ships will not reach the UK until days before Christmas.
Ongoing difficulties in the global shipping network due to COVID-19 are highlighted as the cause of this delay, resulting in major supply issues in sourcing shipping containers and space on shipment. The cost of containers saw more than a five-fold increase in price over the last 12 months, rising to in excess of $10,000.
The situation is likely to have positive implications for Irish lamb. Reports in recent days suggest that UK customers are looking to Irish lamb to fill the void in supplies from reduced imports from New Zealand. It is also very likely that the volume of New Zealand lamb exported to other markets in Europe will be disrupted, which could hopefully have knock-on effects in increasing demand for Irish product.