Farm Ireland

Sunday 19 November 2017

Why Irish lamb prices will have to stay low to be competitive next year

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Despite Irish lamb exports increasing significantly this year, it looks like prices will need to remain low to keep pace.

According to the AHDB, with higher production rates anticipated in the coming months, there is potential for Ireland’s export growth to continue.

How much of this sheep meat will find its way across the Irish sea is uncertain, however, as higher lamb slaughterings are similarly anticipated in the UK early next year.

The AHDB says with a late Easter stalling demand for lamb early in 2017, and the sterling/euro exchange rate expected to remain in the UK’s favour, Irish lamb prices will likely come under pressure if their product is to remain competitive next year.

To the end of October 2016, according to the Ireland Central Statistics Office (CSO), Irish sheep meat production was 2pc higher than the year earlier figure at 49,600 tonnes.

However, throughput was unchanged overall, and the production increase was instead driven by a greater proportion of adult sheep slaughterings.

At 327,000 head, adult sheep throughput was a significant 22pc higher than during 2015 across this period.


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Despite fluctuations in the lamb supply, the AHDB says exports of fresh/frozen sheep meat have been above year earlier levels for eight of the nine months in the first three quarters of 2016.

 At 35,500 tonnes, export volume was 13pc higher than last year during this period. The value of these shipments increased by a similar amount, to just under €200 million.

It says Ireland has been particularly successful in exporting to France, with volumes up 21pc on the year for the January-September period.

This is notable, it highlights as France has been importing less sheep meat overall this year, and UK exports to this destination have reported a decline.

Though from a smaller base, a 30pc rise in shipments to Sweden was also seen in the first nine months of the year, alongside a 22pc increase in German volumes. The majority of this growth was driven by fresh/chilled lamb carcases.

At 8,260 tonnes, Ireland also shipped 5pc more sheep meat to the UK during the first three quarters of the year, compared to 2015.

The value of these shipments increased ahead of volume, reaching €36.3 million as unit prices for fresh/chilled bone in cuts rose significantly.

Online Editors