The factory price pressure which was present last week has quickly disappeared, with prices increasing by 20c/kg on average since the start of the week.

Prices have now climbed back close to the peak levels witnessed before factories temporarily gained control of the trade.

Regular sellers handling large numbers and trading at the top end of the market and producer groups are securing returns of €7.30/kg to €7.45/kg.

Most plants are also now also willing to grant a carcase weight limit of 23kg following moves by some plants to try to maintain this at 22.5kg in recent weeks.

A narrower price differential remains at entry level to the market than in previous weeks, with Kildare Chilling quoting a base price of €7.10/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) bonus, with other export-orientated plants working from a base of €7/kg plus their respective QA bonuses.

The reversal in price is stemming from a significant reduction in throughput. This is reflected in last week’s kill falling by 5,362 head to 49,329.

Throughput of lambs fell by 4,519 head, while the ewe and ram kill fell by 843 head to 6,180. Reports towards the end of last week and over the weekend pointed to this figure falling further at the start of this week, prompting factories to take action on price.

The drop in throughput was also influenced strongly by the number of sheep imported from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter falling by 1,961 to 6,508 head, the lowest weekly figure recorded since the start of July.

Throughput for the year to-date of 287,171 head is running 46,618 behind the corresponding period in 2020.

The drop in numbers crossing the border south was subject to a combination of factors, including finishers reluctant to move at the lower quoted prices, a general tightening in supplies and northern plants targeting sellers handling large numbers to sway their interest into killing locally.

Plants have also increased base quotes by 20p/kg to £5.70/kg or the equivalent of €6.72/kg at an exchange rate of 84.7p to the euro. Top prices remain 5p/kg to 15p/kg higher.

Prices in Britain did not experience the factory price pressure seen here and have continued to edge upwards, ranging anywhere from £6.05/kg to £6.30/kg.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is firm, with quotes typically in the region of €3.20/kg. Regular sellers are securing returns of €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg, with plants reluctant to go above this level unless ewes are part of a deal involving significant numbers of lambs.