Lamb Prices: Are we seeing the start of a price rally?

Factories

11/4/2019 Loughrea Sheep Mart
Michael Conroy from Headford loads up his newly bought Spring Lamb at Loughrea Mart.
Photo Brian Farrell
11/4/2019 Loughrea Sheep Mart Michael Conroy from Headford loads up his newly bought Spring Lamb at Loughrea Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

As we went to press yesterday there were unconfirmed reports that ICM was now paying 40c/kg above their base price of €4.60/kg to individuals and producer groups. If true this means the top of the market is now at €5.00/kg.

While this price was not confirmed by ICM, there has been intensive lobbying on prices by both ICSA and IFA of the processors over the last week. The long climb back on price might just have started at long last.

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While quotes for lamb were back 5c/kg at Kildare Chilling yesterday to €4.70+10c/kg quality assurance, the two ICM plants on our table lifted their quote at lunchtime yesterday by 10c/kg to €4.60+10c/kg QA.

Moyvalley Meats also remained unchanged at €4.70/kg. Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak Athleague did not quote.

ICSA's sheep chairman Sean McNamara was hopeful when I spoke with him yesterday morning that prices might be about to stabilise and rise.

"The Eid festival traditionally drives demand for lamb and that is due to commence next Sunday," he said. The IFA's sheep chairman Sean Dennehy agrees.

"The sheep kill is expected to increase from 60,000 to 75,000 over the next two weeks and this will drive demand and prices," he said.

Mr Dennehy called on retailers and processors to review their pricing policies and return a fairer share of the retail price to the farmer.

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He pointed out that current prices were unsustainable for sheep farmers.

While individual farmers are reported as being offered as low as €4.50-4.65/kg for lambs, the general run of expected prices yesterday was from €4.70-4.80/kg, with the top of the market reported to be between €4.85-4.90/kg for groups. While there were some difficulties reported in getting stock killed at dual purpose plants, i.e. beef and sheep, there seemed to be a consensus that with Eid beginning to soak up additional supplies, sheep farmers were not as yet seeing any major backlog developing in the supply chain as a result of the Beef Plan Movement protest.

On the marts front, the store trade continues to thrive, with reports yesterday that demand remained unabated at both Athenry and New Ross. The drive to source factory lambs saw prices in the €85-100/hd range, with heavier 50kg-plus lambs selling up to €116/hd.

North of the Border, quotes held steady last week at £3.65-3.70/kg for R3s up to 21kg, with base quotes for this week expected to increase to between £3.70-3.80/kg. That is up significantly on the previous week when the total arriving from the North for slaughter stood at 4,934.

All in all, despite concerns that the beef protest would impact factory supplies and see a possible fall off in kill numbers, the reality appears to be that the demand for the Eid festival is negating any negative effect on price.

Indeed, one well-placed farming source opined that this week's improvement of 10c/kg at ICM might well have materialised last week if supplies had been allowed through the gates at plants in the west.

Marts Roundup

1 Dowra

This was a very big sale with factory lambs selling from €85-102/hd. Forward stores saw prices in the €70-85/hd range, with light mountain lambs making from €55-70/hd. Heavy cull ewes sold from €80-118/hd, with store ewes making from €45-75/hd. Quality ewe hoggets made from €140-170/hd, with a few pens of lighter hoggets selling from €110-130/hd.

2 Blessington

Store lambs continued to be very lively here with those over 35kg selling from €75-85/hd, while lighter lots made from €50-75/hd. Heavy lambs sold from €97-101/hd, with factory types making from €88-97/hd.

Fat ewes sold from €110-130/hd. Suffolk cross hogget ewes made from €135-180/hd, with Suffolk cross ewe lambs selling from €90-110/hd.

3 Enniscorthy

Prices for butcher-type lambs ranged from €99-109/hd with factory lambs making from €87-98/hd. Trade for stores saw heavier lots making from €80-86/hd, with lighter lambs selling from €70-84/hd - ewe lambs made from €85-118/hd.

4 Mountbellew

Although numbers were easier, trade for lambs was back a shade on the previous week. Trade for store lambs was good, however, as was demand for stag ewes. Good quality ewe hoggets also met a brisk selling trade. Sample price among the lambs included eleven 47.6kg ewe lambs at €100/hd, sixteen 36kg wether lambs at €83/hd, ten 49kg ewe lambs at €109/hd and twenty-six 49kg ram lambs who sold for €98/hd.

5 New Ross

Jim Bush reported a very solid sheep trade yesterday with 55kg fat lambs seeing a top call of €116/hd. Jim reckoned the price range for heavier lamb ran from €103-116/hd with the majority selling from €104-107/hd. Factory types saw 42kg at €85/hd with 47.4kg making €100/hd. Ewe lambs sold to a top of €120/hd. Heavy cull ewes made from €110-140/hd with lighter ewes selling from €80-110/hd. A fine store trade saw those around the 35kg mark make from €72-85/hd, with the lighter lamb making from €53-77/hd. "The supply of grass has been a great help to the store trade," Jim commented.

 

standout sale

€182/hd

Was paid for hoggets at Athenry

standout sale

€140/hd

Was paid for cull ewes at New Ross

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