The sheep trade remains vibrant, with a strong factory appetite keeping a strong floor under the trade at a high price point.
There is a wide differential in prices paid between and within plants, depending on the negotiating power of the seller.
A high percentage of sheep are being traded at present by specialist finishers or those handling large numbers.
Prices paid for sellers with average negotiating power are in the region of €6.30/kg, while those trading at the higher end of the market of throughput groups are securing returns of €6.40/kg to €6.50/kg.
Some of these deals in the region of €6.35/kg to €6.40/kg also include allowances on transport costs, which are worth in the region of 8c/kg to 10c/kg.
There are also select deals reported at 5c/kg to 10c/kg above this level, but this is being confined to sellers handling very large numbers.
At the opposite end of the market, reports indicate there are some plants still trying to purchase small numbers of hoggets at opening quotes of €6.15/kg to €6.20/kg.
Mart managers report they have seen a significant increase in numbers entered in sales as a result of these producers showing these sheep live to take advantage of strong competition between factory agents.
Prices have also strengthened in the UK and across a number of EU markets.
Prices in Northern Ireland are generally in the region of £5.40/kg to £5.60/kg or the equivalent of €6.07/kg to €6.30/kg at Monday evening’s exchange rate of 88.9p to the euro.
Regular sellers are pushing prices 5p/kg to 10p/kg higher, with a vibrant mart trade keeping pressure on factory agents to look after sellers handling big numbers.
Prices in Britain vary between region and range anywhere from £5.60/kg to as high as £6.00/kg or €6.30/kg to €6.70/kg.
The latest Bord Bia price report for the week ending 9 January 2021 recorded prices of €6.11/kg in Spain, while prices in France were recorded at €7.23/kg.
This compares with prices of €5.83/kg in Britain and €5.61/kg in Ireland, with the Irish price recorded exclusive of VAT at 5.6%.