Sheep trade could be heading for a tipping point
“IN the interest of getting into good quality sheep we’re holding at last week’s price”, was the very clever line I got from one factory buyer this week on sheep quotes.
The underlying message seemed to be that if you don’t hit all the boxes there’s a danger you’ll be taking less.
Official quotes are stuck at last week’s level and run from a base of €4.50 plus 10c/kg bonus at the two ICM plants, to a top of €4.60 plus 10c/kg at Kildare Chilling.
When you tie in my factory man’s “good quality sheep” comment with the fact a good number of mart sales last week were small there is just a hint that supplies may be about to tighten. Official quotes for ewes are fairly uniform, with all plants quoting a base price of €2.50/kg. Bonuses of 5c/kg and 10c/kg are being paid by Kepak Athleague and Kildare Chilling respectively.
Looking at the marts, trade is stable to improved slightly with numbers small in many place. Jonathan O’Sullivan, manager of Cahir Mart, summed up the feelings of many in one sentence: “Sheep are making what they are making and a lot of sellers are disappointed.”
In summary then the trade on the ground is running at about €4.70-4.80 /kg for hoggets, with cull ewes on €2.50-2.80/kg. The ICSA’s John Brooks said prices are down 80c/kg on last year and claimed that the factories were bringing in supplies of additional sheep from Scotland, England or Wales.
“The stock being brought in are heavier live and carcase lamb, the very same product that Irish producers would get penalised for,” he claimed.
The trade for farmers appears to getting to a crunch point, a bit like that ITV game show “Tipping Point” where a small nudge one way or the other could make or break you.