Deals of up to €6.50/kg are being secured by farmers, with factories looking to procure larger lots of lambs, IFA national sheep chair Sean Dennehy has said.
The lamb trade continues to strengthen, driven by very strong market demand and tight supplies of finished lambs. Dennehy has said that €6.20/kg is freely available, with weights up to 23kg on the table to close out deals.
The overall sheep kill in 2020 was up 75,000 head on 2019 levels, with spring lambs making up 57,000 of this increase.
Dennehy continued: “When the extra ewe lambs that have been retained in the breeding flock are also taken into account, numbers of lambs available to factories are expected to remain tight.
“Lamb sales performed very strongly in supermarkets throughout last year, offsetting some of the difficulties in the food service sector.”
The IFA has pointed out that there is up to 30c/kg of a difference in prices offered by some factories.
Dennehy has called on farmers to move lambs as they become fit, but to sell hard to maximise returns and drive on prices.
“Competition between factory agents and wholesalers in marts is underpinning the trade, with returns from mart sales comparable to and in some cases above some factory prices,” Dennehy said.
“The mart is providing a real competitive alternative for farmers unable to secure the higher end prices that factories are paying. Cull ewes are making €3 to €3.10/kg.”
Meanwhile, ICSA sheep chair Sean McNamara has said lamb supplies will remain tight into the spring and continue to fuel strong demand.
“With less lamb coming into Europe from New Zealand, and increased bureaucracy around UK suppliers shipping to Europe, the opportunity is there for us to increase supplies to our existing markets and also to break into new markets.
“We need to see the benefits filter down to the primary producer, and while €6.50/kg is better than €6.20 or €6.30 it still does not cover the cost of production.”