The latest lamb prices reported by Bord Bia in its sheep price dashboard for the end of October shows the differential between Irish and French lamb prices increasing to €1.87/kg.

French lamb prices have performed excellently in 2022 and have typically averaged between €7.50/kg and €8.00/kg in recent months.

As detailed in Figure 1, the current price is trending over 40c/kg higher year on year.

This is in sharp contrast to the other countries listed, where prices are, at best, similar and, at worst, over 70c/kg lower in New Zealand.

The current Irish price of €6.13/kg is running 23c/kg lower year on year.

Irish prices are quoted exclusive of the flat-rate VAT addition of 5.5% paid on livestock sales to farmers not registered for VAT.

Export competitiveness

The price quoted for the end of October does not reflect the sharp upward momentum recorded in prices at the beginning of November in 2021.

Prices at that stage increased by 30c/kg to 50c/kg over a two-week period to leave farmgate returns in excess of €7/kg.

Some industry sources comment that there would possibly be potential to return a higher lamb price at present were it not for lower British prices and the need to remain competitive in key export markets.

The British price slipped back at the end of October, with the Irish price also following suit and reducing by an average of 10c/kg.

Turned a corner

The British price has since turned a corner, with the standard quality quotation (SQQ) liveweight lamb price rebounding by 10p/kg to 20p/kg last week and finishing the week in the region of £2.40/kg. This is the equivalent of €2.75/kg at 87.2p to the euro. Reports indicate that the trade on Monday has also been positive and if this continues, then there should be scope to increase prices in line with this upward movement.

Current trade

Base quotes on Monday are unchanged to 5c/kg stronger in cases.

Most plants are operating from a base of €6.00/kg, leaving sellers with lower negotiating power trading quality assured lambs from €6.15/kg to €6.20/kg.

Group and regular sellers are securing returns of €6.30/kg to €6.35/kg, while prices at the top end of the market, including conformation bonuses, are in the region of €6.40/kg.

The trade in Northern Ireland is holding firm and in contrast to Britain, prices have held steady and strengthened in recent weeks.

The average price of €5.80/kg reported in the Bord Bia sheep price dashboard is 11c/kg higher than in early October.

Base quotes for this week are in the region of £5.15/kg or the equivalent of €5.90/kg.

The carcase weight allowance varies between plants from 21.5kg to 22kg, with sellers trading at the top end of the market securing 5p/kg to 10p/kg higher.