Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

Dip in supply puts up lamb prices as the big chill bites

Joe Healy

Wikileaks -- the whistleblowing website -- over the weekend exposed several documents and stories that are deeply embarrassing to many governments around the world.

Closer to home, we have had our own pessimistic stories -- but the leaks and stories for the sheep farmers are quite optimistic.

One factory source said that if the weather continues into next week, quotes and prices will more than likely be forced upwards to entice farmers out with their lambs and especially those that bought store lambs earlier on. When a potential quote of €5/kg was put to him, he didn't answer but he didn't hang up either!

Scarce supplies due to the extreme weather have led to a significant increase to the quotes, for farmers selling at the moment.

A jump of 20c/kg from last Tuesday leaves Moyvalley up at an all-in quote of 460c/kg. When all bonuses are taken in to account, Kildare Chilling are on a total quote of 461c/kg, reflecting an increase of 15c/kg to their base.

Improvements of 5-15c/kg are evident from the ICM and Kepak plants and this leaves them all quoting 450c/kg plus the bonus for the U grades. Dawn Ballyhaunis became the first victims of the freezing conditions and were not killing when contacted yesterday and, unsure of what lay ahead, were not in a position to quote.

Commenting on the quotes, IFA's James Murphy said that despite the increase, factories were still willing to and having to pay well above those figures, with prices of 470c/kg being successfully bargained for this week.


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Both Kepak plants are offering 450c/kg for the light lambs, while 440c/kg was mentioned for Kildare Chilling. Apart from Moyvalley and Dawn who are not quoting, all the other plants are on 260c/kg for the cull ewes. While Kildare was on this figure last week, the rest have moved up by 10c/kg to join them.

Meanwhile an Bord Bia reported that the sheep trade was largely unchanged last week as demand offset supplies.

Quotes for lamb were in the region of 445-450c/kg. The light lamb continues to benefit from strong demand, with quotes making up to 450c/kg. Trade for cull ewes remained firm, with quotes reportedly still making in the region of 250c/kg.

Supplies for the year up to mid-November are running approximately 262,500hd below 2009 figures, with lambs down by 185,000 and cull ewes and rams back by around 77,000hd.

In the UK, tightening supplies combined with sterling strengthening helped prices. At the auction markets, as the week progressed, prices reached the equivalent of 431c/kg dw including VAT towards the weekend.

In France, trade for limited volumes of Irish lamb remained unchanged as more NZ and UK lambs made their way to the market in the lead-up to Christmas. Prices being paid for grade 1 Irish lambs stood at just over 473c/kg, inclusive of VAT, by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, down under, cold wet conditions during spring has hit the 2010 lamb crop hard, leaving New Zealand lamb numbers back 10pc on last season.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Economic Service's annual lamb crop survey released last week shows the number of lambs was 25.11million head, some 2.8million less than last spring, and the largest between-season percentage decrease seen in 21 years.

Overall, the ewe lambing percentage across the country was 109.6pc, some 11.9 percentage points lower than last season's 121.5pc and the lowest seen since the spring of 1995.

Lambs available for export are set to fall 1.4m (-6.8pc) on last season, to 19.5m during the current marketing year, which runs from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011. The reason for the lesser decline than the 2.8m fall in the lamb crop, is the prediction that fewer replacement lambs will be retained compared with last season's high retention, in an effort to boost cash flow.

Irish Independent