Strong prime lamb trade lead­ing to Easter pe­riod

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FARMING -

NOW THAT Easter week­end is past, prime hogg prices have cooled – but still re­main 30 per cent higher than last year.

‘Auc­tion mar­ket through-puts through March have been well above last year’s lev­els, while the UK weekly slaugh­ter of prime sheep has been run­ning well ahead of last year in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary,’ said Stu­art Ash­worth, Qual­ity Meat Scot­land (QMS) di­rec­tor of eco­nom­ics ser­vices.

‘So de­spite strong sup­plies of hoggs, farm gate prices have strength­ened sug­gest­ing a ba­sic strength in de­mand,’ he added.

‘All of that growth in sales is put down to pur­chases of leg roast­ing joints, which can leave pro­ces­sors with a ma­jor chal­lenge to sell the re­main­ing cuts from a lamb car­case when de­mand for leg roasts is so high,’ said Mr Ash­worth.

Im­ports of New Zealand lamb usu­ally peak at this time of year, but dry weather there has seen early slaugh­ter of their lamb crop.

‘Slaugh­ter sta­tis­tics from New Zealand sug­gest that be­tween Oc­to­ber and the end of Jan­uary they killed 10 per cent more lambs than last year, though their Jan­uary kill strug­gled to match year ear­lier lev­els,’ said Mr Ash­worth.

‘Not sur­pris­ingly, New Zealand saw some growth in ex­ports over this pe­riod, but the lat­est data sug­gests the vol­umes ex­ported in Fe­bru­ary failed to match last year,’ he added.

Growth

Mr Ash­worth was keen to stress the growth in ex­ports from New Zealand was not to the UK, where the vol­ume shipped be­tween Oc­to­ber and Fe­bru­ary was little changed, but to China and EU coun­tries in­clud­ing Ger­many and France.

France re­ported lower slaugh­ter vol­umes through­out the au­tumn and into 2018 which led to in­creased im­ports, ini­tially from Ire­land and New Zealand, but as 2017 drew to a close the UK also in­creased de­liv­er­ies. The UK also saw growth in ex­ports to Ger­many and Bel­gium.

‘Once again we see the im­por­tance of Euro­pean Union cus­tomers to the mar­ket for Scotch and UK lamb,’ said Mr Ash­worth.

‘In ad­di­tion to this, the high farm gate prices in Scot­land and the UK has clearly drawn hoggs onto the mar­ket, which may mean sup­plies be­come tighter through April and May and the like­li­hood that though cool­ing, farm gate prices will re­main firm,’ he con­cluded.

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