The best that can be said about last week’s lamb and hogget trade was that prices remained steady, a trend that has continued this week with quotes generally around the €4.60/kg plus bonuses mark.
The one bright spark is the price of cull ewes which yesterday morning moved up to €2.50/kg at Kepak Athleague.
Returning to lamb prices, the two ICM plants are quoting a base price of €4.50/kg plus a bonus of 10c/kg.
Dawn Ballyhauais and Moyvalley Meats are on €4.60/kg, with Kepak Athleague on €4.65/kg plus 5c/kg quality bonus, while the two ICM plants are on that €4.50/kg plus 10c/kg, and Kildare Chilling on €4.60/kg plus 10c/kg.
The line from the factories is that the trade is a mess with a lot of British lamb potentially available to go on the French market now that sterling has again begun to soften against the euro.
It stood at 0.88p to the euro yesterday morning having been 3-4p stronger at 84-85p two weeks ago.
Factory bosses are worried that continental buyers may start to use British lamb prices in a world of devalued sterling as the benchmark for all deals.
When I put it to one factory agent that factory-retailer relations entail more than just cheaper prices, he replied that French supermarkets view “Irish, British and anybody else’s lamb as just all foreign product”.
However, I don’t quite buy that. Continuity of quality supply is a major issue not to be ignored at the first bend in the road. Bord Bia reported that the market in France has become “slow following the festive period with an abundance of competitively priced UK lamb on the market”.
Both IFA and ICSA however paint a different picture with both quoting lamb prices up to €4.75/kg up to 23kgs.
John Lynskey of the IFA said a cut of half a kilo carcase weight cut to 22.5kgs amounts to €119 on a batch of 50 lambs.
The ICSA’s John Brooks was equally scathing on the proposed weight cut but he reminded the industry that last year’s proposal to expand production by upwards of one million ewes was now obviously a dead duck from the farmer’s point of view.
“Only in the last year we heard calls from the meat industry for farmers to increase production and that there is huge potential for growth and potential for markets to be exploited. At the moment the only ones being exploited are lamb producers as meat plants try to reduce prices and reduce weight limits in order to feed their greed for huge profit margins,” the ICSA man said.