Lamb trade facing UK hit

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Bigger numbers of hoggets on the British market could create difficulties for lamb producers this spring, Bord Bia's Meat Markets Prospects Seminar was told last Friday.

A combination of bigger numbers in Britain, slower demand on export markets and cheap New Zealand imports had combined to hit prices, said Declan Fennel, sheep sector manager with Bord Bia.

Ireland's sheep kill increased by 12pc during 2012, with the total numbers slaughtered up 260,000hd to 2.43m. Close to 160,000 extra lambs made up the bulk of additional sheep slaughterings, with 68,000 hoggets and 32,000 ewes and rams.

Mr Fennell said the factories had coped well with additional supplies in 2012, though the weekly kill was greater than 55,000 for 23 consecutive weeks. The average price was €4.32/kg, 11c/kg below the 2011 average.

Production in 2013 is likely to grow by 2-3pc, with the overall flock size reaching 5.25m and the breeding flock hitting 2.67m.

Last year, sheepmeat exports increased by 12pc in volume and 7pc in value to a total of €205m. With bigger numbers coming through the system this year, a further lift in export volumes is anticipated.

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