The hogget trade has moved on again this week, with average prices rising by at least 10c/kg to 15c/kg since the start of the week.

Base quotes have moved up to €6.40/kg to €6.50/kg, leaving most sellers handling even small numbers of quality assured (QA) lamb securing returns of €6.55/kg to €6.60/kg.

Producers handling large numbers or supplying on a regular basis are pushing returns as high as €6.70/kg to €6.80/kg, with some also negotiating allowances on transport costs on top of this price.

Factory agents are active in mart sales and this is providing a solid alternative outlet for producers who normally deal direct with the factory but who are finding it hard to secure the higher prices.

The trade is being driven by a strong factory appetite to increase throughput. Prices have increased by 20c/kg to 30c/kg over the last two weeks and this movement has had the desired effect in attracting higher numbers out, with last week’s kill rising by 4,662 head to reach 46,359 sheep.

However, the kill figure for the year to date is running 27,258 head, or 8%, lower than the comparable period in 2019.

Some reports suggest numbers have tightened once again as this week has progressed and is the underlying factor for prices recording further upward movement.

The ewe trade remains relatively sluggish given the upward movement in hogget prices. Quotes range from €2.70/kg to €2.80/kg, with prices ranging from €2.90/kg to €3.10/kg on average.

This is running 15c/kg to 25c/kg behind the corresponding period in 2020 and, again, is demand driven, with the market underpinned at present by retail sales.

NI trade

The trade in Northern Ireland (NI) has also firmed by anywhere from 5p/kg to 15p/kg. Plants are quoting a base of £5.70/kg and with the euro to sterling exchange rate recorded at 85.9p on Wednesday afternoon this equates to €6.37/kg.

Sellers trading at the top end of the market are securing 10p/kg to 15p/kg higher, with more specialist finishers also securing a higher carcase weight limit of 23kg.

The mart trade is being influenced strongly by buyers purchasing sheep for direct slaughter in southern plants, with numbers moving south increasing by 597 head to 5,175 last week.

The latest AHDB price report shows the average deadweight British lamb price reported at £6.09/kg for last week or the equivalent of €7.09/kg. Prices appear to have steadied this week, with top returns hitting £6.20/kg (€7.22/kg), while the average standard quality quotation (SQQ) price for live lambs eased 3p/kg on Tuesday and was recorded at £2.77/kg (€3.22/kg).