The hogget trade continues to defy all expectations with prices rising by another 20c/kg to 30c/kg in the last week. Many producers had anticipated prices might rise to €7/kg and steady there for a period but prices at the top of the market have surpassed this level.

Some specialist producers and agents handling very large numbers are reported as securing prices of €7.10/kg to €7.20/kg while others are moving hoggets in the region of €7/kg but receiving the equivalent of €7.10/kg to €7.15/kg when allowances on transport costs are factored into the equation.

At the opposite end of the market, sellers handling smaller numbers and possessing lower negotiating power are being offered prices of €6.80/kg to €6.90/kg with producers having more success in securing a price of €6.90/kg as the week progresses.

Infrequent sellers with significant numbers on offer are also pushing beyond these returns and holding out for a price of €7/kg for quality-assured hoggets. This is the line in the sand some factories are trying to hold with individual sellers who have average negotiating power.

Many producers facing challenges in price negotiations and being offered prices at the bottom end of the market continue to opt for the mart trade. As detailed below this is a good alternative outlet with live prices rising by €2 to €5 in the last week.

Last week’s sheep kill reflects the tightness in supplies in the market. Throughput fell by 2,899 head to 43,460 despite the increase in price. This includes a slightly higher ewe and ram kill figure of 6,231 with factories slowly starting to show more appetite for ewes.

Quotes have increased in cases by 20c/kg, with prices ranging from €2.90/kg to €3.10/kg in the main and up to €3.20/kg to €3.25/kg at the top-end of the market.

IFA sheep chair Sean Dennehy is encouraging producers to sell hard and continue to move hoggets as they become fit.

“Returns of €7/kg is available from all factories for QA hoggets with supplies tight and market conditions remaining robust.

Factories are willing to do deals for larger lots and groups and €7.20/kg has been offered to some sellers.”

Top prices in Northern Ireland have also increased above the £6/kg mark. Regular sellers and specialist finishers are securing returns of £6/kg to £6.10/kg or the equivalent of €6.93/kg to €7.05/kg at 86.5p to the euro. Buyers purchasing on behalf of southern plants are driving the mart trade with 5,627 sheep imported last week for direct slaughter, an increase of 450 head on the previous week. The latest AHDB price report shows last week hogget price averaging £6.13/kg (€7.09/kg) with this week’s prices pushing towards £6.20/kg and higher.