Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 July 2018

It's lift-off on sheep prices: New season lamb quotes top €7.20/kg

Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Readers of a certain age may remember the ad for Guinness Light, a product that was one of the most infamous flops in drinks' industry history.

The ad featured slick footage of a space rocket lifting oft for the moon and cut to a smiling guy at a counter with a pint of the lower alcohol, lower calorie beverage in hand as a serious voice states: "They said it couldn't be done".

And as we all know "they" were right. Moving on from 1979 to 2018: three weeks ago I asked one well placed sheep agent if €6.00/kg was possible for hogget as we neared Easter."Can't be done" was the emphatic reply.

Well as of last week it was done to the tune of €6.20/kg. And yesterday morning that €6.00/kg figure appeared for the first time this year among the official quotes from the factories.

The factory in question is Kildare Chilling who lifted their quote from last week's €5.90+bonuses to €6.00/kg +bonuses yesterday.

With Easter due in two weeks and Ramadan two weeks after that, the factories must surely realise that if they want to get the supplies they will need to up their game.

However, that message has not as yet seemed to have filtered through to the other main players as they all remained stuck on last week's prices.

Leaving the various bonus payments out of the equation and concentrating on the base it means that Kepak Athleague, on €5.90/kg are 10c/kg behind Kildare while the two ICM plants and Dawn Ballyhaunis on €5.80/kg are 20c/kg off the top price.

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I was reminded that while Moyvalley Meats may concentrate more on the domestic wholesale business and may not quite have the scale of some of the others in the game, it was Moyvalley who originally set the bar at €6.00/kg for hogget last week.

It's a price they maintain this week.

However, they pushed their quote for new season lamb up 20c/kg yesterday to €7.20/kg.

They also have the distinction this week of being the only processor on our table that was willing to officially quote for new lamb.

Prices on the ground for hogget are reported to have settled between €6.00-6.20/kg depending on quality and numbers.

Sources close to factory buyers indicate that supply is matching demand but that factories are watching the activities of each other's agents closely. There were odd reports of deals been "worried" as agents tried to scrum against the head.

Cull ewe prices are also on the up with Dawn Ballyhaunis lifting its quote by 20c/kg yesterday to €3.10/kg. This puts them level with Kepak Athleague, 20c/kg ahead of the two ICMs who are on €2.90/kg and 10c/kg ahead of Kildare Chilling on €3.00/kg+10c/kg bonus.

John Brooks of ICSA tells me prices for cull ewes are in the €3.20/kg ball park while those with early lamb to sell should be aiming for €7.50/kg.

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