Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

More bite to trade allows farmers to do better deals


Joe Healy

The factory quotes for lambs are like the points required for different third-level courses, in that some are up, some down and others remain the same.

Kepak Hacketstown are up by 5c/kg from this day last week to leave them with a share of the lead, alongside their sister plant in Athleague, on a base of 460c/kg plus 5c/kg.

In contrast, Moyvalley are down 5c/kg, which brings them to an all-in quote of 465c/kg.

Thereafter, it's a case of as you were, with the two ICM plants, Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kildare Chilling all on 450c/kg plus the bonus. Kildare's quote is up, with the top three by virtue of their extra 5c/kg for the quality-assured lambs.

While the quotes do not show much if any improvement taken in an overall context, there seemed to be more bite to the trade yesterday than there was last week as reports also pointed to farmers finding it easier to negotiate deals and prices well above the quoted figures.

Farmers in the east and southeast secured prices of 470-480c/kg for their lambs up to 22kg, thereby returning a gross price of €103-105/hd.

Before anyone gets carried away, it is important to realise that with costs of production being what they are, having to take anything below €100/hd has to be questioned in an overall economic sense.

At the moment, the only farmers taking below €100 are the sellers that do not bargain and are happy to accept whatever the quotes or offers.

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If and when this happens and, say a farmer takes the 450c/kg base plus the 6c/kg bonus (for the good lambs) giving him/her 456c/kg on 22kg, the final price returned is €100/hd (€99 without the bonus) as opposed to the €105/hd referred to earlier. The figures show that selling hard is worthwhile and also sets a marker between the farmer and the factories for the future.

Without doubt, the vibrant mart trade -- from farmers for the forward store lambs especially -- is having a positive effect as it is exerting a lot of pressure on the processors to secure adequate supplies.

The IFA's James Murphy said the lamb trade has regained buoyancy again this week, with factories more anxious for lambs and willing, and having, to pay as much as 20c/kg over the quotes to get stock.

The cull ewe trade is steady as quotes show no change. The 270c/kg on offer from the ICM plants, Kildare Chilling and Kepak Hacketstown is 20c/kg ahead of the 250c/kg being quoted by the two western plants. Moyvalley are not quoting.

In Britain, the trade improved on the back of some tightening in supplies combined with some favourable exchange movement. Livemarket prices by the weekend stood at the equivalent of €4.90/kg including VAT for new season lambs.

In France, trade remained steady in response to lower supplies from Britain. Prices for Irish grade 1 spring lamb were still making up to €5.05/kg inclusive of VAT.

Indo Farming