LAMB prices have plummeted by up to €17 a head, amid an overhang of stock on the UK market and subdued consumer spending throughout Europe.
"It is a perfect storm," said Bord Bia's Declan Fennell of the factors that have combined to cause a drop in prices at a key time for producers.
The collapse in lamb prices has seen quotes falling by 80c/kg over the past fortnight or amost €17 a lamb. Prices are now 60-70c/kg lower than this time last year.
IFA sheep chairman John Lynskey has called for increased retail promotions on the domestic market to try and shift some of the increased supplies.
He met with his UK and French counterparts in Brussels yesterday on the difficulties in the lamb market, and said he would be working closely together to try bring some stability to the lamb price situation. "It is critically important that the market is not being undermined with cheap lamb," he said.
ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks said farmers were producing a high quality product but being forced to "sell at a loss".
"Farmers are understandably angry at the price collapse," he said.
There was an overkill of sheep at export plants with 61,000hd - a rise of 8pc on the same week last year.
Last year prices held amid stronger export demand with less lambs on the UK market, Mr Fennell said.
However, this year he pointed out there was currently an overhang of lambs on the UK market and the level of demand expected with Ramadan has not materialised. He said there should be a lift in trade in mid July with the end of Ramadan.
Mr Fennell said demand was "very subdued and very fragile" on the European market, with consumers reluctant to spend amid uncertainty over the economic fall-out from Greece.
Bord Bia has also unexpectedly noted more Spanish lambs on the French market later than normal due to trade into Libya ceasing due to disease issues.