Supplies of slaughter fit lambs are extremely scarce on both sides of the Irish border, leaving processors with little option but to increase prices this week.
Base quotes at local plants range from 650p/kg to 660p/kg, up 20p/kg on last week. However, with some plants extremely short on numbers, deals of 670p/kg and 680p/kg have been reported.
In the marts, competition is intense, with fewer lambs forwarded and agents for southern Irish factories extremely eager for stock.
While heavier lots suitable for wholesale and butcher outlets are making £145 to £150, factory lambs are generally making £137 to £140. On a 21kg lamb carcase, this equates to a factory price of 652p/kg to 680p/kg.
Factory quotes for spring lambs during the same week in 2020 were at 510p/kg, which is a difference of £33/head year-on-year.
A shortage of factory fit lambs south of the border has seen prices ranging from €8/kg to €8.10/kg this week, but deals of €8.20p/kg have been reported. At current exchange rates, prices at Irish plants convert to a sterling equivalent of 653p/kg to 669p/kg.
In Britain, the Standard Quality Quotation (SQQ) for new season lambs was returning 326p/kg mid-week.
Price reports from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board put the average for R3 grading spring lambs at 724p/kg last week.