New season lamb prices looking positive
LAMB prices have started the season on a positive note for producers, at seven to eight per cent higher than this time last year, according to the latest analysis by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).
‘ With the Muslim festival of Ramadan starting on the June 6, there may be some short-term support for prices which may repeat itself as the festival ends in one month,’ said Stuart Ashworth, head of economic services with QMS.
A cold spring has resulted in new-season lambs being slightly slower to appear on the market than last year, he said.
In England, the volume of new-season lambs reaching the market has only exceeded the old season in the past week. In Ireland, new-season lambs have exceeded old season for a few weeks now but, in Scotland, the volume switch over has not occurred yet.
In general, though, hoggs have been in tighter supply with the weekly UK kill lower than last year throughout the first four months of 2016. Carcass weights have also been lighter.
‘Scottish auction sales of hoggs in April and May have been lower than last year. However, a subdued export market in the first quarter of the year meant that this reduced domestic supply did not support producer prices, which, for much of the first quarter of the year, ran lower than the previous year,’ said Mr Ashworth.
French slaughter statistics show an increase in French domestic lamb production over the first quarter of 2016, despite a continued decline in the French breeding flock.
While UK hogg slaughterings have been lower since the turn of the year, ewe slaughterings have increased significantly.
This increase in ewe slaughterings since the turn of the year has also been repeated in the Republic of Ireland.
This heavier supply of cull ewes is reflected in lower farmgate prices for this class of stock throughout 2016 to date.
A number of factors impact on lamb price prospects.