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5-10c/kg price increase -but there's room for more

The good fortune enjoyed by Giovanni Trapattoni throughout the qualification path to next year's European Championships was mirrored somewhat by the sheep trade over the past year in that, for various reasons along the way, prices remained strong.

Strong markets, scarce supplies at different times and tighter numbers from Britain all characterised the past 11 months on the French market.

Thankfully, in a week that saw the European draw land us in a group with three of the world's top 10 teams, sheep prices just continued to do their own thing and actually even improved a little.

And despite this increase, you could argue that there is still plenty of room for the processors to return more to the farmer when you look at the improvement in British prices.

Prices across the water rose by more than 30c/kg in the week straddling the end of November and the beginning of this month. This saw their price move from the equivalent of 512c/kg including VAT up to 546c/kg, according to Bord Bia.

The small improvement to the quotes referred to earlier reflects a 5c/kg and a 10c/kg rise from Kepak Hacketstown and Moyvalley respectively.


The latter plant has now moved onto an all-in quote of 500c/kg, while both Kepaks are today offering 485c/kg plus 5c/kg. Kildare Chilling is similar when its extra quality assurance bonus is added to its normal bonus on top of the base quote of 480c/kg.

The two ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis remain on 480c/kg plus 6c/kg.

The IFA's James Murphy said that the trade is steady, with factories paying 505-510c/kg up to 23.5kg for lambs.

However, Irish processors had the opportunity to drive on prices given the UK situation, allied to tight supplies and strong Christmas demand.

Kildare is quoting a top price of 280c/kg for the cull ewes. Kepak Hacketstown is on 275c/kg, while 270c/kg is the quote from the ICM plants. Dawn is offering 260c/kg. Athleague and Moyvalley are not quoting.

Farmers selling ewes are bargaining for 300-330c/kg.

The sheep trade improved slightly over the past week, according to Bord Bia, as demand lifted on both the domestic and main export markets.

Quotes for lambs increased this week to around €4.90kg. The cull ewe trade remained unchanged, with quotes now making up to €2.80/kg as tight supplies combined with ongoing strong demand for manufacturing product helped to maintain trade.

Sheep supplies to date are running at similar levels to the corresponding period last year.

In Britain, trade was largely driven by a lack of supplies on the market as demand remained unchanged and little change in currency movements were evident.

By the weekend, livemarket prices were the equivalent of €5.46/kg inclusive of VAT for lambs.

In France, prices for limited volumes of Irish grade 1 lamb were making up to €5.53/kg including VAT by the end of the week, largely on the back of less competitive British lamb supplies and some promotions that have helped lift demand.

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The New Zealanders, with a flock size of 30m sheep, have earned an enviable reputation for being a powerhouse in terms of the global sheep meat trade.

With the 2011/12 season in full swing, Beef and Lamb New Zealand has recently published this year's lamb crop report. It shows total lamb numbers up 7pc (1.72m) on last year.

Export lamb slaughter is expected to be 20.57m head in 2011/12, up 6.8pc on the 2010/11 season. Average carcass weights are expected to fall slightly from the 18.23kg record weight achieved in the 2010/11 season, to an average of 18kg in 2011/12. Total production this year will amount to 370,260t.

The New Zealanders will again fail to fill their EU quota in 2012 due to availability issues and continued increased demand from China and the Middle East.

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