Sheep trade: Processors are playing a waiting game
Unlike my beef factory report where I describe factory agents as ‘driving for the line’ in relation to price momentum, their sheep counterparts are ‘stuck in a scrum on the 22’.
Okay maybe it isn’t exactly a scrum but prices for hogget were in effect stagnant yesterday at last week’s general run of €4.90/kg plus bonuses as factory bosses and agents continued to probe for farmer weakness and opposing factory indecision.
What I mean is that despite Easter being the bare four weeks away , factories are playing the game of waiting and seeing how supplies develop rather than actively trying to source suitable numbers in advance, which means as this week opened the ‘on the ground price’ for hogget hasn’t moved off of €510-5.15kg according to John Lynskey of IFA.
“It is disappointing that the price is not moving (especially as) Department figures show that we have processed an additional 53,955 sheep to date this year, meaning that any surplus or overhang is now gone out of the system,” Mr Lynskey said.
The IFA man did note however that cull ewes had edged stronger at prices from €3.00-3.20/kg. That said, all factories with an interest in cull ewes hold their official quotes at last week’s levels of €2.80/kg, with Kildare Chilling edging out Kepak Athleague as price leader with their 10c/kg quality bonus giving them a 5c/kg advantage over the Roscommon plant at €2.80+10QA.
There is, however, one exception to all this stability, Dawn Ballyhaunis. With the pressure on in rugby terms, instead of launching an up and under Garryowen in the hope of not losing ground Dawn Ballyhaunis drop the ball back 10c/kg thus leaving their cull ewe price on €2.70/kg.
The line from the factories is that trade is very difficult because of pressure from increased sheep numbers in the UK. This is apparently manifesting itself not so much in actual numbers of British sheep coming onto the French market but in the fact French buyers are looking at British lamb prices and telling Irish suppliers they can “buy cheaper in England” in the hope of squeezing prices. It’s an old game and one no doubt that our boys can manage.
Returning to actual quotes, the league table stays exactly as it was last week, with Kepak Athleague edging it on a base of €4.95/kg from Kildare Chilling who remain on a base of €4.92/kg.