AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
24 April 2015
Liveweight lamb prices fall
Prices for old season lambs at GB auction markets have continued to fall as numbers coming forward remain high, compared to demand. In week ended 22 April throughputs were down 15% on the previous week, as expected at this time of year as fewer old season lambs are left on farm. In addition, the previous week’s throughputs were higher than normal as it was the first full week of trading following the Easter Holidays. The OSL SQQ was down 12p on the previous week at 184.5/kg. This is almost 30p/kg lower than in the same week last year, when supplies were much tighter as it was a shorter week as a result of the later Easter holiday period. Since starting to appear on the market, new season lamb prices have broadly been tracking at similar levels to last year. However, in the latest week they fell sharply on the back of increased numbers coming forward - throughputs were up 20% on the week earlier. The NSL SQQ was back 21p/kg on the week to 221.3p/kg. At this price, they are trading well below the same time last year but again comparison is difficult as a result of the timings of the Easter holidays.
In contrast, deadweight prices have been more stable in recent weeks. In week ended 18 April the OSL DW SQQ was up 2p on the week at 445.4p/kg. This modest uplift could be attributed to some restocking by processors following the Easter period.
Imports from New Zealand higher
According to the latest HMRC data, sheep meat imports in February increased 8% on the year to almost 8,000 tonnes. This appears to be more reflective of what is being seen on the market, with much of the increase being driven by higher shipments from New Zealand. Drought has led to producers in New Zealand finishing animals earlier, increasing levels of production, which has resulted in significantly higher volumes available for export. This large increase in imports from New Zealand was marginally offset by lower imports from Australia and Ireland, down 1% and 39% respectively.
The February data again looks like it does not indicate the true picture for the export trade, particularly that outside the EU. Overall sheep meat exports are reported to have fallen 12% year on year to 6,050 tonnes. Despite total exports appearing to fall, shipments to the EU are reported to have increased 5% on the corresponding month last year, driven by increased shipments to the UK’s largest market France, and further increases to Ireland. With the current strength of sterling against the euro this can be viewed as a very positive result.
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