Four-week disaster as prices take hammering
This month has been an unmitigated disaster for sun lovers, Galway GAA supporters and, last but not least, sheep farmers.
In the words of Pat Spillane, our footballers were feeble and an embarrassment. Well, unfortunately, the prognosis on the sheep trade this week could be described in the same way. Just four weeks ago farmers were being offered €6/kg or €126 for their 21kg carcass -- and in some cases more. At present, the farmer is getting €94.50 for a similar weight. This is a massive loss of €31.50/lamb and, at this year's production costs, much more than what is sustainable from a farmer's point of view.
The biggest drop over the past week is in Moyvalley, where 60c/kg has been cut off the quoted figure, leaving the plant on an all-in figure of 450c/kg, reflecting a loss of €12.60/lamb in seven days. It is not much better elsewhere as all of the other plants have dropped by 50c/kg over the same period to a low quote of 450c/kg plus the bonus for today. The top up of the 5c/kg quality assurance bonus from Kildare Chilling gives it the overall edge, albeit as small a margin as the Lilywhites' footballers lost out by to Dublin.
In response to the cuts, the IFA's James Murphy said farmers were very angry with the way the factories have slashed lamb prices and are refusing to sell at the lower quotes. He added that many producers are holding out for and getting up to 480c/kg to 22kg as lamb supplies remain tight with the factories finding it difficult to secure adequate numbers.
On a slightly more positive note, quotes for the cull ewes show little or no change in a range of 250-270c/kg. The ICMs and Kildare are at the upper end, while Kepak Athleague's 250c/kg is the lowest of the plants quoting. Dawn and Moyvalley are not quoting. Kepak Hacketstown is on 260c/kg.
Bord Bia reported that the sheep trade continued to struggle over the past week in response to a slower demand on both domestic and export markets as supplies remain stronger than recent years.
Quotes for spring lambs were under some pressure, with quotes by the end of the week making in the region of €4.80-4.85kg. Despite more lambs coming on stream, manufacturing demand remains steady, with cull ewe quotes typically still making around €2.50-2.70/kg.
According to the CSO, sheepmeat output for the first five months of the year is almost identical to last year's levels, at 16,000t.