Base quotes have quickly rebounded, with all plants revising quotes upwards by 10c/kg this week.

The cuts imposed last week reduced drafting rates, with throughput falling by 3,874 head to 55,840.

Kildare Chilling was first out of the traps, lifting Monday’s quote to a base of €6.50/kg plus the plant’s 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment.

The two Irish Country Meats plants in Camolin and Navan took a couple of days longer to revise their quote upwards to €6.35/kg plus 20c/kg QA.

The plants also increased its paid carcase weight cut-off from Monday to 23kg. This is said to be also putting pressure on other plants to follow suit, with some producers or sellers handling large numbers having some success in leveraging higher weight allowances.

Ballon Meats remains on an all-in quote of €6.50/kg and while Dawn Meats and Kepak are not officially quoting, reports indicate they are operating in the region of a base of €6.45/kg plus 10c QA and €6.35/kg plus 15c/kg QA respectively.

The reversal in quotes leaves producer groups and sellers handling large numbers in a much stronger position.

Prices for R grading lambs range from €6.60/kg to €6.70/kg, with top prices from €6.75/kg to upwards of €6.80/kg.

Top prices reported for non-QA lambs are in the region of €6.55/kg to €6.65/kg for deals involving significant numbers.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade remains unchanged, but there is a slightly keener appetite. This is occurring on the back of numbers falling by over 700 head to 5,542. Quotes continue to differ depending on carcase weight.

Ballon Meats remains top at €3.20/kg for good-quality ewes. This is followed by Kildare Chilling’s quote of €3/kg for QA ewes weighing from 35kg to 43kg, while lighter ewes are quoted in most plants from €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg.

Northern trade

Quotes in Northern Ireland remain in the region of £5.30/kg to £5.35/kg or the equivalent of €6.18/kg at an exchange rate of 85.7p to the euro.

Reports indicate that a combination of tight numbers and keen demand from agents purchasing sheep for direct slaughter is fuelling greater competition and giving regular sellers success in securing 5p/kg to 15p/kg above base quotes.

The number of sheep exported from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter in southern plants was recorded at 9,408 head, up 666 sheep on the previous week.

Significant numbers are also being exported live to Britain and further afield. Despite this competition, throughput in northern plants still increased by about 1,000 head to 12,035, reflecting high demand at present.

A significant differential remains between prices in Northern Ireland and Britain. The latest Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) market update shows British prices averaging £5.88/kg (€6.86/kg).