Factories are trying to regain the upper hand in negotiations and pull prices back.

The tactic being used is one of not offering any official quote and negotiating with each supplier.

This is leading to a wide range in prices paid, with deals influenced by the processor-producer relationship, the numbers of sheep trading hands and quality, with the latter having a growing influence in the case of hoggets.

Factories are generally offering an opening hogget quote of €7.50/kg.

The general run of prices for small numbers being traded ranges from €7.60 to €7.75/kg, but as high as €7.90/kg to €8.00/kg is still being paid for hoggets in deals, with producers and agents supplying large numbers in recent months.

It is a similar story with spring lambs as with hoggets. Opening quotes being offered for Thursday onwards are generally in the region of €7.70/kg to €7.80/kg, with factories trying to purchase lambs at an upper price of €8/kg to €8.10/kg.

Regular suppliers and those who sold lambs forward at the start of the week are, in cases, securing 10c/kg to 15c/kg higher.

Factories cite weaker demand in export markets as being the cause of quoted prices reducing by 20c/kg to 25c/kg, with weaker demand in France singled out as the main contributor.

IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy refutes this statement and said: “There is no basis for negative market commentary from factories. Numbers are tight, demand is strong, imports to the EU and the UK are low and consumer demand for lamb in the supermarkets is solid.

“Hoggets are making €7.70/kg to €7.85/kg, with more available to regular suppliers, with spring lamb up to €8.20/kg.”

Hoggets continue to dominate throughput, with spring lamb throughput gradually increasing. Throughput increased by 9,865 head to reach 47,822. Within this, there were 37,573 hoggets, 5,245 spring lambs and 4,999 ewes.

Year-to-date throughput is running 58,388 head lower

The number of hoggets is 4,188 head lower than the corresponding week in 2020.

This is underpinning lower year-on-year throughput of 2,334 head, with a 1,412 head higher spring lamb kill compensating somewhat. Year-to-date throughput is running 58,388 head lower.

The trade in Northern Ireland has also came under pressure since the start of the week, with quotes dropping by 30p/kg to 50p/kg on last week’s levels.

Base quotes for hoggets are £6.30/kg or the equivalent of €7.29/kg at 86.4p to the euro.

Spring lamb quotes range from £6.60/kg to £6.70/kg (€7.64/kg to €7.70/kg).

As is the case in the south, regular sellers are capable of securing 10p/kg to 15p/kg higher.