AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
12 December 2014
Lamb trade moves up again
The liveweight lamb trade at GB auction marts strengthened again in week ended 10 December. With firm trading on most days in the week, amid the Christmas shows and sale season, at 191.0p/kg the SQQ was up over 9p on the week earlier. With prices gathering pace over recent weeks it would appear that some degree of seasonality has returned to the trade, something not evident on the run into Christmas for the past couple of years. Consequently this may be signalling that demand is performing somewhat better, possibly as the weather has turned colder. Prices peaked on Monday 8 December. The SQQ reached 194.3p/kg, up 13p on the week earlier. The cull ewe market continued its robust performance in the week, with the average price increasing £4 on the week to almost £69 per head. At this level, cull ewes are achieving significantly more than at the same time last year. GB daily liveweight SQQ, change on week Source: AHDB/EBLEX/LAA/IASS There was also much more movement in the deadweight price in week ended 6 December, as the deadweight SQQ increased 9p to 409.3p/kg. Since the beginning of November, this equates to a near 50p/kg increase as deadweight prices seem to be mirroring the strength in the liveweight trade seen in recent weeks. It means that the deadweight SQQ is now above its level a year earlier.
Lamb sales struggle
Lamb sales have been down on 2013 levels for much of the year so far. In the 12-week period to 9 November, consumers bought 12% less lamb than in the same period a year earlier, according to Kantar Worldpanel. Lower supplies of cheaper New Zealand product this year have had an impact on retail prices and, in turn, consumer demand, with three of the big four multiples experiencing a significant drop in the amount of lamb sold. The key driver of the latest results was lower purchases of roasting joints, following a strong performance in the autumn period last year.
Looking towards the Christmas season, pork was the only meat to record a growth in volume sales last year. Sales of lamb fell by over 5%, although an increase in the average price did support a small increase in expenditure. According to recent forecasts from IGD, spending on food and groceries is expected to increase by just over 1% this year. Lower food price inflation in recent months, coupled with promotional activity by leading retailers, has put some downward pressure on prices. However, on a more positive note, the FGD indicated that meat and poultry could benefit from an increase in consumer spending over the Christmas season, with 12% of shoppers surveyed by IGD saying they intended to spend more on meat and poultry this Christmas.
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