Lamb prices: The only way is up as prices start to recover
Back in 1988 Yazz and the Plastic Population released a great little number called 'The Only Way Is Up', a song with a real positive bounce to it. However, one of its first lines is "Being on the bottom line is no fun", and indeed it isn't.
Over the last few months sheep farmers have no doubt felt like they were on that "bottom line" as factory prices struggled to break away from €4.50/kg.
Recently, though, things have gradually improved as prices slowly, ever so slowly have taken an upward trajectory.
This week sees most official factory quotes for lamb strengthen by 5c/kg, with top spot in the leaderboard retained by Kepak Athleague as they rise their quote to €4.75+5c/kg bonus.
Following them up the ladder are Kildare Chilling with their offering of €4.70+10c/kg quality bonus. Next up are Moy Valley Meats, who are the only plant to leave their quote for lamb unchanged, still quoting €4.70/kg.
The two ICM plants also push on that 5c/kg, quoting yesterday morning an official price of €4.60+10c/kg quality bonus.
Dawn Ballyhaunis prop up the board on €4.60+5c/kg bonus.
So from top to bottom, leaving the various bonuses out of the equation, there is an official gap of 15c/kg.
Official quotes for ewes also seem to be beginning in some plants to break away from the regimented floor price of €2.40/kg that has dominated the market place since the last weeks of September.
Kildare up their quote for ewes to by 10c/kg to €2.50+10c/kg bonus, while Kepak add 5c/kg to their ewe quote at €2.45+5c/kg bonus.
The remaining players in the market, however - the two ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis - remain unchanged at €2.40/kg.
All of this movement has helped the mart trade, with reports from sales yesterday that trade was at worst steady to improved by €3.00/hd.
ICSA's John Brooks quoted me €4.85/kg as being about where the market is at for lambs but said that prices were "rising".
John Lynskey was more bullish, with the IFA man saying: "Some factories have offered €5.00/kg to get very tight supplies of lamb this week. Prices are up 5-10c/kg on last week and demand is very strong".
Cull ewes have also started to move, with reports on the ground that €2.60/kg is a minimum that sellers are willing to take for nicely fleshed ewes.
Yazz and her plastic population made it all the way to No 1 back in 1988; the Irish sheep farmer will be wondering what song factory bosses will be singing come Christmas, because at present lambs are already at last Christmas' prices.
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