Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Factories blame 'heavy lambs' for poor prices

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Sheepmeat processors have blamed an abundance of 'heavy lambs' for poor market prices at present.

Following a meeting yesterday between IFA and Meat Industry Ireland (MII) including representatives of the major sheepmeat processors, Cormac Healy said that “while clearly there is disappointment with the current price levels compared with the last number of years, processors are faced with a very challenging marketplace at the moment and trading conditions are exacerbated by a marked increase in the number of very heavy lambs coming through at present”.

Healy said that “processors have delivered improved prices over the last number of years but at present a number of factors are putting a major drag on market returns and these were discussed at the meeting. 

He says the key factors currently influencing the trade at the moment include:

  • The excessive number of very heavy lambs coming out at present is depressing the return achievable in the market. Legs and other cuts from these carcases are simply outside market specifications and customers do not want them;
  • The fall in returns from the fifth quarter that we have seen throughout 2016 means that this contribution is back on this time last year;
  • GB lambs have been trading at a lower price than ours for some time which makes them very competitive in export markets.  While the GB price has recovered somewhat in recent weeks, the weaker sterling still makes them very competitive in the marketplace.  Sterling is 13% weaker than this time last year;
  • The French market is also seeing strong domestic supply of Lacaune lambs, in greater numbers and earlier than previous years.”

“While the industry is doing everything possible to deliver as strong a price as possible based on the prevailing market conditions being faced at the moment, it remains critical that lambs are moved when market fit to avoid a build-up of even heavier lambs in the coming weeks that will only add to problems.”

“For the year ahead, as regards new season lamb, processors were keen to stress the importance of marketing lamb as soon as fit, in order to avail of early market opportunities. In this context, it was noted that Ramadan takes place earlier this year”.

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