Live exports give trade needed kick
The tap on the back of Limerick's Paulie O'Brien's head during last Sunday's Munster final only helped to secure an historic victory.
But it was the activity of live exporters over the past month that was the kick in the backside that got sheep factories back into line.
The warm weather, barbecues and tight supplies have all helped. But, just as in the cattle trade, the need for a live export trade and extra competition in the marketplace is absolutely essential.
Producer groups had become very frustrated with what they perceived as the manipulation of quotes that allowed the factories to buy cheap lambs from some, despite the loyalty and commitment of those farmer suppliers.
Base quotes have rebounded, with improvements of between 5-15c/kg evident in all plants. The Kepak plants show the biggest increase and their base of 525c/kg plus the bonus is 15c/kg up on their quote last week. Moyvalley are up 10c/kg at an all-in quote of 530c/kg. The ICMs, Dawn and Kildare Chilling are all offering a base of 520c/kg plus the bonus, with Kildare paying a further 5c/kg for quality assured lambs.
Many farmers are bargaining hard on price and carcase weight. I have heard of up to 550c/kg paid in a number of plants with one processor rumoured to have paid a bit more.
The IFA's James Murphy said the combination of strong British and French prices, ongoing live exports, lively domestic demand and reduced supplies had pushed prices to 540-550c/kg. He added that finishers were pushing hard for carcase weights of 21.5kg. Farmers with heavier lambs should sell at the marts or to the live exporters as weights of around 50kg are not really a problem. In contrast, lambs at or above this weight are losing approximately €5 or more if sold to the factories.
Most of the factories are now up at the even 200c/kg for the cull ewes. Kepak Athleague remain on 190c/kg, while Moyvalley are not quoting.