Will factory lamb prices increase more before Christmas?
Temperatures maybe falling, but the sheep trade, and lambs in particular, continues to heat up with €4.80/kg reported last week at weights of up to 23kg.
Some agents are still attempting to quote as low as €4.70-4.75/kg, but sources say that €4.80/kg is “the norm”. Indeed, some specialised store lamb finishers with bigger numbers who bought back in July and August are digging in a €4.85/kg.
Official factory quotes this week are lagging behind reality, but they do show a breaking of formation among factory buyers, with Kepak Athleague jumping into a 10c/kg cumulative lead over the opposition with their quote of €4.65/kg plus 5c/kg bonus.
This is a 15c/kg increase from last week’s €4.50/kg, while the two ICM plants, Kildare Chilling plus Dawn Ballyhaunis rose only 10c/kg to €4.50/kg.
However as Dawn don’t quote a bonus that leaves them this week in last place in the official pricing table by virtue of the fact the other three pay a 10c/kg bonus.
Official quotes for ewes also see volatility with both upward and downward movement. Kepak ease back their ewe quotes from last week’s top price of €2.36/kg plus 6c/kg bonus to €2.30/kg plus bonus. This puts them behind this week’s leader Kildare Chilling, who remain unchanged at €2.30/kg plus 10c. Moving up in price by 10c/kg are the two ICM plants, both of whom were quoting €2.30/kg for ewes yesterday morning.
Is there more in it? One would have to speculate that there probably is. While some factory bosses are very reluctant to admit it, a scan of the more recent mart sheets shows a live trade that is pushing on.
How far the sheep business has come was brought home to me at the weekend at Dublin airport where I fell into conversation with a county Kildare farmer who buys stores “down the west”.