Lamb prices: Another price surge for quality lambs
FACTORY quotes for lambs rose again yesterday as factories poured on the juice. Having lifted their quotes by 5-15c/kg last week, they were up another 10-20c/kg yesterday.
The major movers were the two ICM plants and Kepak Athleague, all three adding 20c/kg to bring them up to a base of €4.60/kg plus bonuses of 10c/kg and 15c/kg respectively.
Dawn Ballyhaunis also quoted €4.60+10c/kg quality assurance as they added 10c/kg to last week's offering for lamb.
Also adding 10c/kg to their quote for lamb and keeping themselves ahead of the opposition were Kildare Chilling at €4.70+10c/kg QA.
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Factory quotes for cull ewes also improved across most of the plants on our table. Dawn and Kepak both moved up 10c/kg to €2.60/kg, while the two ICM plants rose 15c/kg to €2.50/kg. Kildare remain unchanged at €2.50+10c/kg QA.
What is driving this surge in prices? Sources on the ground indicate that it's more a case of factory demand rather than a sudden tightening in supplies.
However, with imports of live lambs for slaughter up 1,663 to 8,672 last week there is a case to be made that local supplies are just now not adequate to meet factory demand.
The Livestock and Meat Commission further report a firming of the trade generally, with deadweight heavy lamb prices across the EU up by 10c/kg to 482.8c/kg last week.
The mart trade took its lead from the factories last week as prices across most classes improved by €2-6/hd. That trend continued yesterday with Sean Leahy of Corrin reporting his top price for lamb as €110/hd for a nicely finished batch weighing 58kg, while George Candler from Kilkenny reported a top price of €109/hd for 55kg.
IFA sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy, said lamb prices are rising rapidly and farmers should dig in and extract the maximum possible form the factories. Both Mr Dennehy and ICSA's Sean McNamara report that when all various quality and grade bonuses are added, quality lambs are capable of €5/kg.
On the cull ewe front, prices are in general €2.60-2.70/kg.
While Mr Dennehy urged Minister Creed to open negotiations on getting Irish sheep meat into China, I wonder exactly what return sheep farmers on the ground could expect?
At present New Zealand and Australia are vying to have increased access to China, with New Zealand hoping to import fresh product as opposed to just frozen. All this keeps the southern hemisphere focus away from high-end EU and UK markets.
I'm all in favour of expanding the reach of Irish lamb, but with French lamb trading at €6.26/kg and prices in Germany averaging €5.29/kg, and with the overall EU average price for lamb just shy of €4.83/kg, maybe now would be an opportune time to strengthen our ties with our continental neighbours.
If Irish sheep meat exports are to expand into China it will probably be the result of favourable consumer sentiment to our marketing of Irish beef, which puts the ICM group for one in a very strong position.
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