Lamb prices continue to vary greatly following the gap in quotes which emerged on Thursday last.

Base quotes range from €5.90/kg plus the 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment in the two Irish Country Meats plants to a top of €6.10/kg plus 10c/kg QA in Kildare Chilling.

Ballon Meats is quoting a similar price to Kildare Chilling for QA lambs by merit of its all-in quote of €6.30/kg.

Reports indicate base quotes in plants not quoting officially range from €6.05/kg to €6.10/kg or a starting point of €6.20/kg when the QA payment is included.

Top prices

A significant percentage of lambs are trading from €6.20/kg to €6.30/kg. Top prices paid to those marketing lambs through producer groups or trading at the higher end of the market are rising to €6.35/kg to €6.40/kg when conformation bonus payments are factored into the price.

Lamb numbers are steady and can be described as relatively tight in comparison with throughput in recent years.

Agents are keen to get their hands on lambs and this is reflected in firm demand exhibited in mart sales. This is especially the case for well-fleshed lots, opening up the mart as a good outlet for producers which generally trade direct with the factory but are struggling to negotiate on price.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is more subdued, with a quieter trade for top-quality ewes in mart sales.

Factory quotes remain unchanged in the main and range from €2.60/kg to €3/kg in the larger lamb processing plants and €3.30/kg in Ballon Meats.