Mild winter weather has let the factories off the hook on lamb prices
If we as farming people were to assess a year in just purely monetary terms, the sheep business for 2016 would look poor compared to the previous year. Go back to the first quarter of 2015 and you see factory lamb prices increasing to and beyond €6.00/kg.
By the first quarter of 2016 prices were down by a euro and by the end of 2016 were another 50c/kg lower.
That’s a 25pc fall in real terms in price from January 2015 to this week. And while I do have plants quoting more in the league table today (see below) one of our bigger operators is on €4.50/kg this week.
The reason for the falling price can be partly seen in the Bord Bia statistics (opposite) that show the fluctuations in overall sheep and lamb numbers between 2015 and 2016.
With overall numbers at just over 500,000 in early 2015, prices were heading for €6 plus, but once numbers began to rise the price slide was on. Numbers hit 800,000hd in the third quarter of 2015 and once a price slide starts it can be very hard to halt.
If it was, once numbers settled back down as they did in the first quarter of 2016 overall average prices in theory should have gone back up to the €6.00/kg region, but they didn’t.
Granted the top end lambs pushed €5.80-5.90/kg in February, but the overall average according to Bord Bia stayed fairly flat at about €5.20/kg.