Lamb prices slip closer to 400c/kg
I suppose it is of little consolation to our Taoiseach, but he wasn't the only one to have a tough week. At least he got to meet Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh on Sunday whereas sheep farmers only got further bad news yesterday with quotes for lambs slipping closer to the "line in the sand" figure of 400c/kg.
Okay, there is still a little room as today's quotes range between a base of 410-420c/kg with bonus payments on top of this. And just in case you are becoming discouraged reading this, the good news is that farmers willing to bargain are freely securing prices well above those quotes.
After a few weeks of playing second fiddle, Kepak Hacketstown regains top spot with their base of 420c/kg plus the bonus. They are the only plant to have held the base at last week's levels. A 5c/kg drop leaves Kildare Chilling in second place at 415c/kg plus the 6c/kg for the U grades. Allied to this they are also paying an extra 5c/kg for quality-assured stock.
Most of the rest have cut their base quote by 10c/kg to leave them at 410c/kg plus 6c/kg. A 15c/kg reduction sees Moyvalley looking up at them with their all-in quote of 410c/kg.
IFA National Sheep Committee chairman James Murphy said there is strong farmer resistance to factory price pressure on lambs. He said factories are paying between €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg to get lambs, with €4.35/kg common as agents and procurement managers are struggling to fill loads. As a consequence, farmers with numbers of quality-assured lambs are commanding more. He added that the prices of €4.50/kg, which were prevalent this summer, are absolutely necessary to reinstate confidence in sheep production at farm level and warned factories that any attempt to reduce prices would erode a very fragile recovery at farm level.
Despite quite a few factory sources saying that large numbers of cull ewes are being slaughtered, the quotes are pretty steady. Some very slight slippage leaves Kildare on 240c/kg. Both ICM plants and Kepak Hacketstown are offering 240c/kg while 220c/kg is being quoted by Dawn Ballyhaunis.
Bord Bia reported that the sheep trade eased over the past week as trade continued to be affected by the slowdown in French demand and some increase in Irish supplies. Base quotes for lambs were making in the region of 425c/kg by the end of the week. Quotes for cull ewes were in the range of 240c/kg, with more reportedly available.
In Britain, lamb supplies were tight throughout most of the week. The average new season SQQ price in England and Wales strengthened with the price standing at 428c/kg including VAT towards the weekend, despite some strengthening in Sterling against the euro.