Sheep Trade & Prices
Throughput: Weekly sheep throughput for July 26th increased by nearly 6,800 head on the previous week. With spring lamb accounting for nearly 90% of the weekly kill, just 222 carry over hoggets were presented at export factories last week. For the week ended July 26th, a total of 74,342 sheep were processed in Irish export plants This is the largest throughput figure so far in 2020 as export plants actively look to source lamb supplies ahead of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha which began on July 30th. Throughput for the same week in 2019 was 13,581 less. (-22%)
For the year to date, total throughput for sheep in Ireland is 1,583,934 head, which is now 6% higher than the corresponding period in 2019. Increases in spring lamb have accounted for this. Spring lamb throughput for 2020 stands at 600,611, running 14% (+74,500) above 2019 levels as good grass growth, carcass weight limits being increased and active sourcing by export plants for factory ready lambs attributing to this.
A total of 190,691 sheep from N. Ireland were exported to the Republic of Ireland for direct slaughter so far this year. Imports of NI lamb have increased by 6% so far in 2020. The past few weeks have seen increases in sheep being imported for direct slaughter in the Republic from Northern Ireland due to favourable factory prices in the south.
Prices: The average factory price for sheepmeat in Ireland for the week ended July 26th was €5.25/kg excluding VAT. This price represents a 6c/kg decrease on the average price from the previous week. The GB lamb price for last week was £4.78/kg, which equates to €5.29/kg. Northern Ireland lamb prices are currently averaging €5.10/kg (£4.61/kg).
Prices in sheepmeat export plants in Ireland have dropped across the board in the past week, with many factories cutting up to 20c/kg off base prices in the past 7 days. For the week commencing 27th July, many factories cut their quoted prices to €5.20-€5.25/kg, with QA lambs commanding a 10c/kg price premium across all export plants. Prices in 2020 continue to outperform their 2019 equivalents, with the average sheepmeat price for last week over €0.75/kg higher than the same week 12 months ago.
Markets: Irish lamb has performed well in difficult market conditions so far in 2020, with preference for Irish lamb evident in our key export markets. French imports of Irish lamb for the first five months of the year are up 4%, with Irish sheepmeat exports increasing by 3% in 2020 so far.
The Muslim festival Eid al-Adha began on the 30th of July and ends on 3rd August. With it comes an increase in demand for lamb product right across the EU. With supplies of lamb product from New Zealand and Australia in the EU running at reduced levels due to diversion of product to Asia and stagnant production levels, the demand for Irish lamb has been very high in the lead up to this festival.
See our weekly updated market trends.