Skip to content

Agribusiness News August 2023 – Sheep

31 July 2023

Lamb prices are now more in line with those of 2022, after the pressure on the price being felt at the start of the year.  We have witnessed a prolonged hogg season with a high carry over, and the new season lambs showing a slow start, with the high price of feed and the slow spring.  Now we have a good supply of spring lambs flowing through, we are seeing the typical seasonal slip in price.

The production of lamb in Spain, France and Greece is lower than normal, due to flock reductions.  The EU flock is currently at the lowest level since 2017.  However, some countries have increased production, including Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands.  With this, we have seen high EU lamb prices since the start of the year e.g., the French price has remained above €7.90/kg DW.  Now we are seeing the export markets suffering with inflation and competition from cheaper sources of protein.  However, this reduction in the European flock and our competitive price vs French lamb can only be an opportunity for the marketing of the lamb crop 2023 over the coming months.

The price differential between French and Australian lamb is extreme, with the French lamb being 2.5 times the value!  The Australian and New Zealand lamb has targeted the closer China and Middle East markets, due to the location and freight costs.  There is a massive opportunity for the UK lamb to target this Middle Eastern market.  Countries in the middle East are reported to import 90% of their halal meat and the global Muslim population is vastly growing, which is increasing the global requirement for sheep meat.  Within the UK, only 6% of our general population eats lamb once per week, 60% of the Muslim population eat lamb once a week!

We only need to look at when the key Muslim festivals were in 2023 compared to the lamb and cull ewe price graphs to see the impact the additional demand makes on the sheep trade.

Muslim festivals 2023

  • Ramadan 22nd March – 20th April
  • Eid-al-Fitr 21st – 22nd April
  • Eid-al-Adha 27th June – 1st July

In 2030, there is likely to be two Ramadan’s in one year.  This is due to the lunar calendar moving forward by 11 days every year.  It is expected one will take place in January 2030, the other in December 2030.  The last time this happened was in 1997, the next after 2030 will be 2063!

Kirsten Williams; 07798617293

Sign up to the FAS newsletter

Receive updates on news, events and publications from Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service