Factories are utilising extra processing capacity this week as they satisfy increased demand stemming from the Islamic religious festival of Eid al-Adha. The festival, which takes place from 16 to 20 June, has supported the highest weekly kill in recent years, recorded at 70,071 head in 2023.

Last week’s kill of 41,456 head was an indication of an increased appetite for sheep.

While there is nothing spectacular about the level of throughput, it is first time in several weeks that the kill has come anywhere near comparable levels to the corresponding week in 2023.

This has resulted from lamb throughput closing the gap to 2023 levels, with the number of lambs processed recorded at 26,107 head, down 7% year-on-year, compared to the previous week’s figure of 28% lower.

While factories are keener for higher numbers, there has been no movement in the main on price. We remain in the poor position of limited quotes.

The two Irish Country Meats plants in Camolin and Navan are quoting €8.80/kg plus their 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment, while Ballon Meats remain on an all-in quote of €9.20/kg.

Kildare Chilling are absent, but reports indicate that some producers were having more success in securing prices of €9.10/kg to €9.20/kg for QA lamb this week.

The other plants not quoting are also reported as opening prices for quality assured lambs at €9/kg.

Groups are curtailed due to the lack of quotes at a price of €9/kg to €9.10/kg with top prices rising to €9.20/kg. The mart trade remains a good alternative outlet.

Live exporters have boosted demand in recent days but the window to get lambs exported for the festival is tightening fast.

Factories are being helped in their attempts to keep a lid on price by deals completed with specialist finishers who have retained significant numbers of hoggets for the festival.

Reports indicate prices being paid are well north of the prices of €8/kg to €8.30/kg paid to individual producers.

The festival probably presents the last opportunity for producers with weaker negotiating power to move hoggets at a reasonable price, with all expectations that the focus will move primarily to lambs from next week on.

Northern trade

Northern plants are also trying to keep a lid on price and are frustrating groups by offering lower quotes but paying higher to regular sellers.

Reports indicate plants are offering opening quotes of £7.10/kg to £7.15/kg but paying as high as £7.30/kg to £7.50/kg (€8.81/kg) to secure supplies.

The higher prices are being forced by having to compete with a live trade buoyed by live export buying for the British market.

The AHDB reports British lamb prices reducing by 42p/kg last week to average £8.08/kg (€9.49/kg) while hoggets fell 55p/kg to £7.39/kg.