Factories back down on tide of lamb price cuts
I spoke to one sheep factory representative yesterday and after our conversation on the trade concluded, I asked if he was he watching the World Cup. "No," he replied, "hurling is my thing, and more so since we're sailing the top of a wave down here with Davy Fitzgerald."
As a result, I spent the rest of the day with a disturbing picture of Wexford boss Davy Fitz in my head. Bare chested, summer shorts, feet apart on a surfboard in Hawaii shouting: "Look at me, Ma. I'm on top of the world."
The only correlation to that story and the price of sheep is that after falling off the crest of a wave three weeks ago, prices yesterday, while back another 10c/kg on last week, appear to have stabilised. Factory representatives this week indicated that despite speculation about further price cuts, they were now more concerned that suppliers keep numbers moving evenly. A fact that may help explain why two plants put up their quotes for cull ewes yesterday.
This new-found concern for the mechanics of supply had, however, yesterday not helped maintain the lamb price as all factories slid their quotes by another 10c/kg. The top factory quote comes from Kildare Chilling with their offering of €5.90+10c/kg quality bonuses, just behind Kildare come Kepak Athleague and Moy Valley Meats both on a straight €5.90/kg. Next up are the two ICMs, both quoting €5.80+10c/kg bonus, while Dawn Ballyhaunis tag along in last place on just €5.80/kg.
On the positive side, quotes for cull ewes are no worse than last week and at two plants their price is actually 10-20c/kg better. Top of the pile continues to be Kildare Chilling with their quote yesterday of €3.00+10c/kg, is up 10c/kg on last week. Next up are Kepak, also on €3.00/kg but with no bonuses on offer. However, that is a full 20c/kg better than last week. The two ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis remain on €2.80/kg for cull ewes.
Moving to the hogget trade, Dawn Ballyhaunis and the two ICM plants lead the way with all three quoting €4.80/kg, while the two ICMs top up that figure with an additional 10c/kg bonus. Kepak Athleague did not quote yesterday for hoggets, while Kildare Chilling were back at a figure of €4.40+10c/kg. Asked why they appeared so far off the mark while they have been market leader for much of the year, I was told that with supplies of hogget now fast disappearing, they are seeing too many that were "too mixey" coming through the gate.
As to how prices are working out at the farm gate, the general consensuses appears to be that prices have now stabilised around €6.00-6.10/kg for lamb, with cull ewes on €3.00/kg.
With that last price wave now appearing to have washed up on the beach, how long will it take before sheep farmers see another one?