Any rugby fan can take satisfaction from the current Heineken Cup table, with three of our provinces occupying qualifying positions with just one round to go. Sheep men should feel good too when they see the lamb price table this week, with improved quotes from no less than six plants.
A 10c/kg jump sees Moyvalley move onto an all-in figure of 520c/kg, with near neighbours Kildare Chilling also up 10c/kg to leave it on 510c/kg plus the two bonuses of 6c/kg and 5c/kg. A similar increase in the west moves Kepak Athleague and Dawn Ballyhaunis up to a base of 510c/kg plus the bonus. Kepak Hacketstown has also moved up by 10c/kg to 510c/kg plus 5c/kg. Both ICM processors stay on 500c/kg plus the bonus.
Scarcity appears to be the main reason behind the positive movement because a number of factory sources alluded to the market being pretty sluggish at the moment. Having said all that, they are extremely keen to secure as much stock as possible, with agents under pressure to deliver adequate numbers.
The IFA's James Murphy said that lamb prices continue to strengthen, with factories paying 530c/kg up to 23.5kg.
Kildare's 300c/kg quote for the cull ewes keeps it in top spot. A rise of 10c/kg from Dawn Ballyhaunis brings its quote up to 290c/kg, leaving it alongside the two ICM plants. Kepak Hacketstown remains on 285c/kg, while Kepak Athleague has also stayed at 270c/kg.
Bord Bia reported that the sheep trade remained firm last week as an increase in supplies was absorbed by strong demand levels across key export markets combined with some recovery in consumption on the home market.
Quotes for lambs for much of the week were making up to €5.10/kg as restocking continued following Christmas.
Similarly the cull-ewe trade remained firm, with quotes making up to €2.90/kg as on-going manufacturing demand continued to help trade.
In Britain, trade was steady despite some recent strengthening in the euro against sterling. By the weekend, livemarket prices across Britain were the equivalent of €5.40/kg for lambs.
In France, trade also stayed steady, with Irish grade 1 lamb making up to €5.40/kg including VAT for most of the week. In the coming weeks, the emergence of Lacunae lamb should lower dependence on UK meat.
According to Kantar, British retail meat sales across the different species slowed during November compared to the same period in 2010.