AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
01 June 2015
Lamb prices continue to decline
New season lamb prices at GB auction markets have continued to fall in the past week, despite the shorter week. In the week ended 27 May the NSL SQQ was back over 9p at 184.7p/kg. However, prices have shown more stability in recent days, with the SQQ on Wednesday 27 May up 3p on the week at 185.2p/kg. This leaves prices almost 56p/kg lower than in the same week in 2014, despite numbers being lower. Throughputs continued to increase as the season progresses, but were only up by 2% on the previous week due to the reduced trading following the Bank Holiday. Expectations of high supplies later in the year are thought to be reducing the effects of current slightly reduced numbers and leading to prices continuing to fall.
Throughputs of old season lambs coming forward are continuing to contract as numbers on farm dry up - marketings in the past week were half those of the previous week. The OSL SQQ fell by over 18p on the week to 149.4p/kg, 51p back year on year.
The deadweight trade has followed the liveweight market and fell in the latest week. The overall NSL SQQ in week ended 23 May was down by 5p on the week earlier to 421.3p/kg. This means prices are now over £1 per kilo lower than those seen around the same time in 2014.
Promotional activity supports lamb sales
According to the latest data from Kantar Worldpanel, in the 12-week period to 26 April purchases of lamb were up, compared to the corresponding period last year. This increase was largely driven by purchases of roasting joints and mince. An increased level of promotional activity meant that the average price paid for lamb was a fraction lower than that for beef and only £2.50/kg more than pork, which encouraged some switching out of both proteins. The increased levels of promotional activity, which helped drive a fall in average prices by just over 5%, resulted in overall expenditure on lamb falling by 4%.
More roasting joints were sold on promotion throughout this period, particularly leg joints, for which market penetration increase by almost 10%. Almost 1 in 5 households purchased this cut in the three-month period. Easter provided some relief for sales of all red meat roasting joints. In the pre-Easter period, fresh roasting joint sales (beef, pork and lamb) were all up compared with Easter 2014. The most popular roasting cut was lamb leg joints which did particularly well in the two-week period on the run-in to Easter. Expenditure on lamb leg joints overtook that on beef roasting joints to be the highest of any red meat roasting joint, approaching £50 million in the four-week run up to Easter. The year-on-year Easter growth, evident since 2011, has again confirmed the position of lamb as an Easter dish.
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