Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

Lamb prices plunge by up to 30c/kg as supplies increase

Sheep trade has been shaky
Sheep trade has been shaky

Joe Healy

A 20-30c/kg plunge in lamb quotes over the last week has left the sheep trade as shaky as the Cork defence in Sunday's league final.

It wasn't a good sign when factory sources were reluctant to answer the phones on a Monday morning and it didn't get any better when do answer reply to a question about quotes by saying "we are not quite sure yet, but we should have a better idea in a half hour".

As you will see from the table, only one outfit were willing to quote for the three categories. A couple of others were quoting for some of the categories, while the remainder were not in a position to offer any quote.

The main pressure on the trade at the moment is from a significant number of mixed quality hoggets still in the system and lamb numbers increasing by the week.

The price fall is equivalent to over €4/lamb, while the 30c/kg drop to the hogget quotes reflects a hit of in excess of €7/hd to the final price. No factory source was positive about the current situation, with the ICM plants quoting a base of €5.80/kg plus the 10c quality assurance bonus for the lambs. The only other factory willing to show their hand for the lambs was Moyvalley Meats where an all-in €6/kg was being offered. I did hear of lambs being killed at various plants around the country yesterday with the deals done late last week at €6/kg. However, while the trade is undoubtedly under pressure, it is still important to bargain hard on weight and price. Every 5c/kg counts and is worth €1/lamb. An extra carcase weight of a 0.5kg is worth €3/lamb. You won't get anything extra without looking for it.

John Lynskey said the IFA met with the UFU(Ulster Farmers Union) in Dublin yesterday to discuss plans to ensure that changes to labelling do not impact on primary producers and distort the sheep trade.

Kepak Athleague were the only other plant to join the ICMs when it came to quoting for the hoggets. All three were singing off the same hymn sheet at a base of €5.20/kg plus the bonus. This bonus is for QA stock in all three, with 10c/kg on offer from the ICM plants and 6c/kg from Kepak.

The ewes have probably held best with the ICMs retaining last week's figure of €3/kg. Kepak have dropped their quote by 20c/kg to €5.80/kg. The other plants were not quoting.

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Bord Bia reported that the trade slowed down during the week on the back of reduced demand. Trade was relatively sluggish in our key export markets.

In Britain, the trade has slowed down with ample supplies available to meet current demand levels. English and Welsh prices were the equivalent of around €5.67/kg towards the end of the week.

In France the price for grade one Irish lamb was making €6.25kg towards the end of the week.


Thankfully, the negative vibe in the factories hasn't transferred to the marts. Prices appear to have held up with a particularly strong trade in Fermoy where lambs made up to €98 with the €/kg when a lot weighing 45kg sold for €143. Quite an amount of pens made between €130-146, in a range from €78-98 over the weight. The best of the hoggets weighed 59kg and sold for €138, but €100-120 bought most of them. The top hogget price in Athenry was €141 for a pen of ewe hoggets weighing 57kg. Wether hoggets made from €90-135, or €50-70 with the weight. Spring lamb prices for the fitter types ran from €100-125/hd, or €63-77 over the €/kg. Fleshed lambs in Kilkenny were moving at prices of €110-127 or €70-80 with their weight. Hoggets sold for €60-83 over at prices of €120-136. Cull ewes made from €60-136.

Carnew had 1,600 on offer and reported an easier trade for hoggets and spring lambs, with prices back by €7-10/hd. Butcher hoggets made from €118-123 and factory types from €112-120. Stores sold for €90-110. Demand was keen for ewe hoggets and prices ran from €130-157. Spring lambs were making from €100-118. Fleshed cull ewes sold for €130-152.

Store ewes made from €65-130. Breeding ewes with a single lamb at foot ranged from €140-215, while ewes with twins made from €185-265.


Indo Farming