There is no basis for negative sheep market comment from factories, with conditions for sheepmeat favourable, IFA sheep chair Seán Dennehy has said.

He said the current market conditions are underpinned by strong supermarket performance, tight supplies and reduced volumes of imported lamb in our key markets.

Hoggets are making €7.70 to €8.00/kg and spring lamb is making €8.30/kg, with higher deals available and concessions on weights, the IFA said, adding that cull ewes are ranging from €3.10/kg to €3.50/kg.

“Demand from factory agents and wholesalers is strong in the marts, with prices particularly for heavier lambs and cull ewes above what some factories are offering,” he said.

Lamb imports

Total lamb imports to the EU27 and the UK from New Zealand are down 23% year on year, with the EU27 down 27% and the UK down 20%, the IFA said.

It added that sales of lamb in supermarkets continues to perform strongly, increasing in volume and value by 12% and 6% respectively for the latest 12-week period.

“Supplies are tight. Last week’s kill at just under 48,000 was 3,000 below the corresponding week in 2020, with the total numbers processed this year almost 60,000 below last year’s levels,” it said.

Numbers are tight, demand is strong, imports to the EU and the UK are low and consumer demand for lamb in the supermarkets continues to increase, it said.

Dennehy said farmers should sell hard in this positive market environment, while moving lambs and hoggets as they become fit to maximise returns.