Spring comes early as lamb prices surge 50c/kg
SHEEP prices at the factory gate picked up considerable speed over the past week.
This time last week the best factory prices for hoggets were in the range of €5.70-5.80/kg. Yesterday, both the IFA and ICSA were reporting that their members had little difficulty securing bases of €6.15-6.20/kg for hogget.
If this was the Cheltenham Gold Cup the commentator would be starting to get excited at the prospects.
And why shouldn't sellers get excited - a 50c/kg rise in a week is nothing to be sneezed at. While the official quotes always lag behind the actual prices paid, they too have moved up several gears. That improvement in official hogget quotes for hogget is in the 40-45c/kg range.
Tied at the top of the table yesterday morning were Kepak Athleague and Kildare Chilling both of who quoted €5.90/kg up 45c/kg and 40c/kg respectively on last week. Kildare just edge top spot with their 10c/kg bonuses the difference, when compared to Kepak's 5c/kg.
Next up come the two ICM plants and Dawn Ballyhaunis, all of whom yesterday tacked 40c/kg onto their official quotes bringing them to €5.80 plus bonuses.
Moyvalley Meats were the first out of the blocks yesterday morning when quoting €7.00/kg for spring lamb; they were followed in quick order by Dawn Ballyhaunis with their quote for quality assured lamb of €6.70/kg.
On the cull ewe front, prices remain steady. All factories with an interest in this side of the game quoting either €2.90 or €3.00/kg.
How long can these prices be maintained? With hoggets now lifted and spring lamb starting strongly, surely the rising tide will lift the cull ewe boat as well?
Sean Dennehy of the IFA said: "With Easter less than three weeks away, factories are looking to procure increased supplies at this stage."
In addition, he said there is some pent-up demand in the trade due to the weather problems. He said the factories are extremely anxious for lambs and have told agents to let nothing slip by.
Clean sheep policy
On the clean sheep policy, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said a policy as "significant as this was never going to land without difficulties". However, he said progress had been made and saluted the efforts of farmers.
Mr Creed stressed policing the policy is vital with inward inspections coming from countries such as Saudi Arabia.
However, John Brooks of ICSA warned the problem will resurface during difficult weather conditions next year if the industry does not undertake research on the issue of presentation and slaughter.
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