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Agribusiness News July 2023 – Sheep

3 July 2023

Cull ewes

It has been reported that the number of adult sheep slaughtered in the UK between Jan-April 2023 is 5% higher than 2022.  This may be due to the drought in summer 2022, and these additional culls being concentrate fed over the winter prior to being marketed.  AHDB has forecasted an increase of 0.8% adult sheep will be slaughtered in 2023 compared to 2022, totalling 1.71 million.  The national flock has increased by 1% to 14.4 million ewes.

The cull ewe trade has followed a similar pattern to that of 2021, with a rise being seen during Ramadan and then following typical supply and demand trends.


Wool trade

Global trading of wool has shown decreasing values over the last month.  Wool for manufacturing continues to be at the mercy of the delicate global economy.  China has been actively buying wool from the higher quality wools as the prices have lowered through the last month.  Prices for the end of June 2023 are as follows:

Lamb exports

Exports of lamb are growing, with the first quarter of 2023 seeing a rise of 22% on the year.  AHDB have estimated a rise of 14% in exports will be witnessed in 2023 compared to 2022.  The reason for this rise is due to:

  • The decreasing flock in Europe;
  • New Zealand and Australian lamb targeting closer more profitable markets in China and Asia
  • UK domestic demand is decreasing, meaning we have a higher level of product to export, strengthening our position in the market;
  • Global demand of sheep meat and protein is high;
  • Our current price is competitive especially to the French. Our deadweight price has overtaken the Spanish price which will limit our competitiveness to Spain.

The below graph shows the effect of high supply and low demand at the start of the year, with a high carry over of hoggs.  With Ramadan and Easter in April, this created high demand as hoggs slowed down and the new season lambs were slow to start, creating a lower supply.  Now as the lambs start to come forward at pace, the price will drop, which will again make us price competitive to our European traders.

Kirsten Williams; 07798617293


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