Farm Ireland

Tuesday 16 January 2018

NZ's lamb output hits lowest level in 50 years

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The world's number one lamb producer is heading for its lowest output in 50 years.

New Zealand lamb supplies were 15pc lower for the six months up to the end of March this year, according to the latest data from Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

Despite carcass weights actually rising during this critical period when the majority of New Zealand's lamb output goes to market, difficult weather conditions reduced overall productivity.

However, trends suggest that this season is running later than normal in terms of disposals.

New Zealand is now expected to finish out this season almost 8pc back on last year, resulting in the lowest lamb slaughter figure for that country since the 1960-61 season.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand remains positive regarding price prospects, stating that lamb prices will remain strong for some time to come because of tight global supplies.

The global mutton market is also strong as lower Australian exports help price levels, according to Bord Bia's Padraig Brennan.

NZ mutton supplies are expected to rise by 10pc.

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Lamb prices to New Zealand farmers for April were 53pc ahead of last year, according to the commentary, with mutton prices up by 63pc.

The lower availability has impacted on New Zealand sheepmeat exports to the EU, which for the first three months of this year were 18pc lower than a year earlier at 50,400t a week.

All major markets recorded reduced shipments led by France and the UK.

Chilled import volumes were even lower at 23pc less than last year.

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