AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
10 February 2015
Lamb prices strengthen again
Having edged back last week, liveweight lamb prices have rebounded this week, likely helped by some tightening of numbers. In week ended 4 February, the GB SQQ at GB auction marts increased by almost 4p/kg on the week to average 189.4p/kg. This came as the number of lambs forward fell by over 15%. By the end of the week, prices were still strengthening, with the SQQ on Wednesday 4 February increasing 10p/kg on the week to average 192.0p/kg. Stronger prices have also continued into Thursday, with the provisional (5pm) SQQ showing an uplift of 12p/kg on the week at 197.9p/kg. With fewer cull ewes forward, the average value for week ended 4 February was up £2 on the week at £75.55 per head. Combined with the robustness in the lamb trade, this indicates that demand for sheep meat at the moment is relatively strong, which, as we head towards Easter, may generate some optimism amongst producers.
Whilst also remaining relatively firm and still tracking above year earlier levels, the deadweight lamb trade followed the trend of the liveweight trade last week and eased back. In week ended 31 January, at 416.4p/kg, the SQQ came back 8p on the week. For another week, estimates suggest that fewer lambs came forward compared to the week before but, consistent with most of the year so far, numbers were still ahead of a year earlier.
Increased roasting joint sales drive Christmas performance
According to latest data from Kantar Worldpanel, in the four weeks to 4 January 2015 household purchases of lamb increased almost 3% on the corresponding period last year. However, there was little change in overall expenditure on lamb over the Christmas period. Most of the uplift in volume purchases came from increased sales of leg roasting joints. This was dominated by one of the Big 4 retailers, as a result of strong price promotional activity. In contrast, volume sales of shoulder roasting joints were significantly lower compared with last year, likely as a result of the increased promotional activity on leg roasting joints encouraging some product switching. Only one of the Big 4 retailers significantly increased their promotional activity on fresh lamb in the period and it was the only retailer to experience a growth in volume sales. The hard discounters also showed a small drop in sales, although this was on the back of notably strong growth last year.
In addition, and following the overall grocery trend, there was an increase in sales of premium quality lamb lines, albeit from a relatively small base.
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