Factory base quotes for Tuesday have fallen by 20c/kg to 30c/kg for lambs, leaving opening quotes in the region of €8.80/kg or €9/kg for quality assured (QA) lambs.

Hogget prices are facing a heavier cut, with base quotes falling by 30c/kg to 80c/kg, leaving opening quotes in the region of €8/kg to €8.15/kg or €8.20/kg to €8.30/kg for QA hoggets.

Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) sheep chair Adrian Gallagher has criticised factories' attempts to reduce prices, citing that their purchasing behaviour risks undermining the sheep trade.

Speaking at the Kepak All-Ireland and International Sheep Shearing Championships on Saturday 1 June, Gallagher said plants in Ireland are attempting to pull prices in a manner that is “way ahead of the direction of travel of prices in our key export markets in recent weeks”.

Tight supplies

“The reality is that lamb supplies are tight on the ground and demand is increasing ahead of the important festival of Eid al-Adha. Supplies are tight right across Europe and the UK and factories must stand firm and maximise returns to sheep producers.

"While the higher prices in early 2024 have increased, the confidence of specialist finishers primary producers have had a very challenging spring, with higher costs and increased mortality.

"Such producers need to receive higher returns from the market if the sector is to have any hope of maintaining breeding ewe numbers.”

'Dangerous path'

Gallagher said the level of cuts set an unacceptable dangerous path for farmgate returns and must stop.

The IFA sheep chair also condemned supermarkets on some of Ireland’s export market for “using cheap, chilled and frozen imported sheepmeat to undermine prices returned to local suppliers”, and called on factories to “not engage in a race to the bottom”.

“Supermarkets cannot on the one hand look to promote their green credentials while on the other using cheap imports to undermine the viability of local producers,” he said.