Lamb prices have increased by an average of 10c/kg this week on the back of relatively tight supplies failing to satisfy demand.
Kildare Chilling is the main mover with its base quote rising by 10c/kg at the start of the week to €8.20/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) bonus. The quote is to a carcase weight limit of 20.5kg, with many other plants quoting to 21kg carcase weight.
Other factories have also increased base quotes by 5c/kg to 10c/kg, but these are lagging behind Kildare’s quote at a range of €7.95/kg to €8.00/kg.
This has resulted in a greater differential in prices entering the trade, with some plants trying to buy QA lambs from sellers trading small numbers on an individual basis for €8.10/kg to €8.15/kg, which is 15c/kg to 20c/kg behind the equivalent quote in Kildare.
Regular sellers handling larger numbers are securing returns of €8.15/kg to €8.30/kg, while at the top end of the market, producers handling large numbers are securing returns of €8.35/kg to €8.40/kg.
Procurement agents caution that the increase in price has come on the back of tighter supplies rather than improved market performance and are worried about lower UK prices undermining Irish exports in key export markets.
The tightness in supply is reflected in last week’s sheep kill of 48,219 head falling by 6,116 on the previous week.
The hogget kill of 5,737 head reduced by 5,084 on the previous week, but still remains 4,265 above the corresponding kill of 1,472 head in 2021.
Year-to-date throughput of hoggets at 882,015 head is running a massive 191,354 higher.
In contrast, last week’s lamb kill of 37,150 is lagging 5,416 head behind 2021 levels, with total throughtput to date of 191,169 down 40,961 head. The ewe and ram kill for 2022 of 122,139 is 5,791 head, or 5%, lower year on year.
The strong appetite for lambs and tightness in supply is feeding into a solid hogget trade.
Base quotes are in the region of €7.10/kg to €7.20/kg, with regular sellers and specialist finishers continuing to secure returns ranging anywhere from €7.30/kg to €7.50/kg.
The ewe trade is also vibrant, with factories moving to compete with those purchasing ewes for live export or the wholesale trade and rising opening prices to €4.00/kg, an increase of 10c/kg to 20c/kg on the previous week.
Sellers handling significant numbers are securing returns of €4.20/kg to €4.30/kg, while higher prices have been reported, with agents securing 10c/kg to 20c/kg above the going rate.
The trade in factories in Northern Ireland is also solid, with base quotes rising to £6.65/kg (€7.70/kg) and prices at the higher end of the market ranging from £6.70/kg to £6.80/kg. Agents purchasing on behalf of southern plants are said to be very active in sourcing sheep in mart sales and direct farm purchases.