Throughput: Weekly sheep throughput decreased again by a further 3% on last week as hogget supplies dry up further and spring lamb throughput continues to increase. Closure of marts and the nationwide lockdown of 2 months ago are also contributing factors in sheep numbers tightening. For the week ended May 16th, a total of 41,027 sheep were processed, which was a decrease of 1,450 head on the previous week. Throughput for the same week in 2019 was 10,881 head above last week’s level.
For the year to date, total throughput for sheep in Ireland has been 961,781 head which is now 4% higher than the corresponding period in 2019. This increase is due to an extra 57,000 additional hoggets which were carried over in 2020. These hogget numbers are now decreasing quickly as the carry over stock from 2019 have been sent to factory. Spring lamb throughput for 2020 so far is at 75,422, running slightly above 2019 levels.
A total of 116,400 sheep from N. Ireland were exported to the Republic of Ireland for direct slaughter so far this year. This is a 5% reduction compared to 122,683 head of NI live exports in the equivalent period in 2019.
Prices: The average factory price for sheepmeat in Ireland for the week ended May 16th was €5.63/kg excluding VAT. This price represents a 9c/kg increase on the price from the previous week, to leave average sheepmeat prices 44c/kg higher than they were 12 months ago. The GB hogget price for last week was £4.75/kg, which equates to €5.32/kg. Northern Ireland lamb prices are currently standing at €5.52/kg (£4.93/kg).
Base quotes for this week are relatively unchanged as demand for sheep remains strong. QA lambs are generally commanding a 10c/kg at most meat plants. A high proportion of remaining hoggets are now trading at lower prices of €5.20-5.30/kg, which represents a decline in quotes compared to last week by 20c/kg. Irish lamb in still competing well within EU markets, with a strong retail performance attributing to this. Availability of more spring lambs is coinciding with Ramadan, which comes to a conclusion on May 23rd. Quotes for these are mainly ranging from €6.00-€6.10/kg.
Markets: Demand for sheep meat will be strong given the holy month of Ramadan concludes this Saturday, May 23rd. In the space of the last six weeks, lamb has taken centre stage for Easter and Ramadan, these festivities have been fortuitous for the sheep sector. However the industry is cautious looking towards the end of the month, when spring lambs will become more plentiful, this will fundamentally alter the dynamics of supply and demand and put pressure on prices.
See our weekly updated market trends.