Factories: Sterling boost helps keep lamb steady


The Kepak factory in Athleague. Photo: Ray Ryan
The Kepak factory in Athleague. Photo: Ray Ryan
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Lamb prices remained firm this week, with the improvement in sterling helping with competitiveness in the UK.

The exchange rate has moved to roughly 88p against the euro after breaking through the 92p barrier in recent months.

With the exception of Kepak Athleague, the factories stayed exactly as they have been for last week.

Kepak reduced their price from €4.65/kg plus 5c/kg bonus to €4.60/kg plus bonus, pushing themselves half-way between the Kildare Chilling price of €4.60/kg plus 10c/kg bonus and the two ICMs who continue on the price they set the week beginning September 11 of €4.50+10c/kg quality bonus.

Dawn Ballyhaunis continue to remain at the top of the table for lamb on €4.50/kg plus 5c/kg.

Cull ewe prices also continue on an even keel with Dawn Ballyhaunis and the two ICM plants on a straight €2.40/kg, while Kepak and Kildare offer a five and ten cent bonus per kg respectively on that same €2.40/kg price.

While reports indicate that all plants have moved to 22kg on lamb, Kildare continue to broadcast 21kg as being their official cut-off weight for lamb and 40kg for cull ewes.

As to the on-the-ground prices, reports vary somewhat, with ICSA claiming the top of the lamb market is currently €4.75/kg while John Lynskey of IFA claims €4.80/kg has been paid on "some" deals for groups and larger lots.

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However, he puts prices in the main from around €4.65 to €4.75/kg.

Mr Lynskey said the sterling exchange rate is helping in terms of competitiveness in the UK. He said this will also make Northern lambs less attractive for the plants.

He said farmers are still frustrated that imported lambs are being used in some cases.

Factory bosses continue to stress issues around kill-out and fat score. Some factories contend that some lamb is continuing to come through that is either too light or with too little fat cover.

It's all well and good for them to lecture on this aspect of quality, but at a base of €4.50/kg will it pay to meal-feed?

Moving to the mart trade the seasonal upswing in, the store trade is under way, with Jim Bush of New Ross reporting that his sale yesterday saw "good demand, with prices for stores over 35kg ranging from €35-45/hd".

Jim reported the lighter store trade as "exceptional", with one 22.5kg lot of lambs making €56/hd or €2.49/kg.

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