Factory agents have shown more appetite for sheep this week, with agents more active in sourcing lambs direct off farms and through mart sales.
Agents and procurement personnel are keen to keep a lid on price, but are being forced in cases to offer 5c/kg to 10c/kg extra to close sales.
Kildare Chilling increased its lamb quote by 10c/kg to a base of €6.00/kg at the start of the week and while other plants remain on a similar base quote in the region of €5.80/kg, the reality is the majority of lambs are being purchased at a price of €6.00/kg upwards.
Regular sellers handling large numbers and those trading through producer groups are receiving prices averaging in the region of €6.10/kg to €6.20/kg, with top prices rising to €6.30/kg to €6.35/kg.
Wholesalers are, in cases, reluctant to move above a price of €6.10/kg to €6.15/kg, but are trying to entice sheep forward by offering a carcase weight limit of 22kg to 22.5kg, while most plants remain reluctant to pass 21.5kg carcase weight.
The tightening in supplies is evident in last week’s sheep kill, with throughput falling by 2,214 head to 61,983.
The overall figure hides the fact that ewe and ram throughput increased by 817 head to reach 9,498, meaning lamb throughput eased by about 3,000 head.
Factories continue to report major variation in slaughter performance and a significant volume of lighter carcases.
With the store lamb trade running at a high level, this is the best outlet for any lambs which are likely to kill poorly.
The ewe trade is steady, with factory quotes ranging in the main from €3.00/kg to €3.10/kg, with Ballon Meats well out in front with its quote of €3.30/kg.
Prices for farmer ewes typically range from €3.00/kg to €3.10/kg, with agents and regular sellers trading from €3.20/kg to €3.35/kg, depending on their outlet.
The latest AHDB price analysis suggests the standard quality quotation (SQQ) price for liveweight lamb is steadying after recent downward price pressure, with Tuesday’s price reported at £2.19/kg (€2.54/kg), a reduction of 3p/kg on the week earlier. Deadweight prices also look to be steadying this week, ranging anywhere from £4.90/kg to £5.10/kg (€5.70/kg to €5.94/kg).
Reports indicate that a major contributor to the recent price pressure in some areas is growing problems with staff shortages in processing plants and a backlog of lambs developing. This issue is not specific to lambs, with big problems evident across pig and poultry processing and also beef in some areas.