Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 11 December 2016

Will factory lamb prices increase more before Christmas?

Martin Coughlan

Published 22/11/2016 | 14:00

Official factory quotes this week are lagging behind reality. Photo: Getty Images.
Official factory quotes this week are lagging behind reality. Photo: Getty Images.

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.

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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.

sheep quotes.PNG

Outlook

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.

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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”.

He commented that while prices this year have not hit the high of last year we were “thank God” a long way from the heady days of the 1990s when the country was “nearly overrun with sheep” and the factories had it nearly all their own way.

“All they had to do was drop the price and they would be over-run with sheep – they were real panic merchants,” he said.

Later I spotted my first ever lamb burger bar. For €10 I had a choice of so-called Greek or Persian lamb burgers. It was “the whole job”.

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