It is shaping up to be another bad week for the sheep trade.

Base quotes for Monday have fallen by another 10c/kg to 20c/kg, leaving base quotes ranging from €5.80/kg to €6.00/kg.

The majority of lambs are still trading from €6.00/kg upwards by merit of the quality assurance and producer bonuses.

The differential in base quotes and absence of quotes from many factories is leaving many producer groups in a weaker trading position, with prices on Monday ranging from €6.05/kg to €6.25/kg, with the higher prices seen in plants with a higher base quote.

Regular sellers and those with greater negotiating power are also facing a similarly wide differential in prices secured.

Heavy blow

The latest cuts are a heavy blow to finishers who were already facing a bleak prospect of daily feed costs exceeding the value of liveweight or carcase gain.

Many producers - and in particular those who purchased store lambs when prices were strong - will find it increasingly challenging to at best breakeven.

Factories are blaming greater volatility and poor demand in export markets and continue to highlight that the presence of lower-priced New Zealand and British lamb is undermining negotiations in key export markets.

Base quotes in Northern Ireland have fallen back to £5.00/kg or the equivalent of €5.64/kg at Monday evening’s exchange rate of 88.7p to the euro. Groups and regular sellers are trading 5p/kg to 10p/kg higher.

Prices in Britain vary, depending on region, with prices on Monday also reported as ranging from £5.00/kg to £5.10/kg.