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Agribusiness News February 2023 – Sheep

2 February 2023

The prime lamb trade has been depressed for the start of the year, showing values well behind that of 2021 and 2022. January has been a tough month for many consumers, having looming credit card bills following Christmas, combined with the cost of living crisis. While the UK domestic market is struggling, all reports show that global supply of lambs and sheep meat are low, which is generating good demand. The highest of this demand coming from EU, Asia and America. New Zealand and Australia have tied in well to the Asian and American market, meaning we have great opportunity to push more product to the EU. With this in mind, I think we will see this price recovering to some degree over the next month.

The 2022 UK lamb crop was bumper, with a rise in the ewe flock of 3% and an excellent lambing season, saw an estimated 17.9million lambs enter the national flock. Looking at the total sale of lambs in 2022, we were slightly ahead of 2021 in terms of numbers sold with a 3% increase, mostly due to producers offloading early to prevent feeding expensive concentrates (lamb finishing feed ~£400/tonne). Which would make you think the carcass weight would be lower, however, carcass weights averaged 20.2kg, which is very similar to 2021.

There are still a good volume of lambs to enter the market place, which will probably hold the price back from last year’s highs, but with a global shortage of lamb, we will see a recovery in the current low price.

Cull ewe sales saw a phenomenal trade in 2022, again due to the global shortage in sheep meat. The price dipped down at the end of the year due to an increased supply pre tupping. With the increased cost of inputs, many selected culls hard, to ensure all non-productive animals were out of the flock, which resulted in more than normal ewes coming forward. In January 2023 prices have been back by ~£10/ewe on average, again due to producers selling with a poorer finish. The total adult kill figures for 2022 are estimated at 1.2 million sheep, which shows a rise of 4% compared to 2021.

In 2023 the Muslim festival Ramadan will be 22nd March – 21st April, demand for sheep meat will be increased for this time.

Global trade for lamb sales in January, show rather similar trends to the UK, with New Zealand, Australia and Ireland all showing a decrease from the 2022 values in January. While Spain and France have seen an increase in price, by €0.29/kg and €0.50/kg respectively. With the French lamb standing at €8.22/kg week ending 21/01/23. The largest decline in price is the New Zealand lamb where prices have fallen from €5.19/kg DW (w/e 22/01//) to €4.09/kg DW (w/e 21/01/23). Which is 50% of the French value! The question is, when does French lamb get too expensive for the French consumer?  07798617293

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