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Agribusiness News June 2023 – Sheep

2 June 2023

All Classes Trading Fantastic

The trade for all classes of sheep is currently exceptional, with new season lambs starting to come forward while there is still demand for well fleshed hoggs.  However, there are many leaner unfinished types being marketed to offload them from holdings.

Culls ewes have seen week on week rises for the last number of months, which is demonstrated below.

Consumer Easter behaviour

Consumer trends and habitats have now been issued for April, which makes interesting reading for any sheep producer.  In the two weeks before Easter, 9.7 million kg of roasting joints were sold in the UK, showing a year-on-year increase of 6%.  The most popular roasting joint was lamb, which saw a 25.5% rise on the year, while pork and beef saw decreases on the year.  63% of the lamb sold in this period was leg roast which is priced at an average of £11.64/kg compared to beef roast at £10.02/kg.

This increase demand for lamb may have been due to both Easter and Ramadan/Eid being held at similar times.  In addition to which, supermarkets were promoting lamb heavily over the Easter period, as well as the weather leaning people more towards an indoor roast than an outdoor gathering.  It may also be that more people are choosing to celebrate Easter, which may be proven by five million extra easter eggs being bought this year in the week before Easter than last year, making 38 million eggs traded the week before Easter (Source: Kantar).

Exports and imports

The export data for the first quarter of 2023 is now available with imports to the UK being back 33% on the year, with meat from NZ reducing substantially while they target markets closer to home.  The three top imports were frozen legs, frozen boneless lamb, and fresh legs.  This reduction of imports is largely due to the reduced consumption of lamb in the UK out with Easter.

Exports are a different story, with a 22% (3,800 tonnes) increase on the year.  This reflects the change of lower domestic consumption and the reaction to the tight supply, due to the reducing numbers of sheep in the continent.  Whole carcases have accounted for 82% of exports in this first quarter.

Last month, I wrote about the declining European sheep flock –  which has decreased by 1.5 million head, with production reduced by 1.2%.  With this in mind, our exports to France have increased 20% from Q1 in 2022, with March showing the highest level in five years.

The declining European flock is a huge opportunity for the UK.  However, we need to ensure our lamb is traded at an attractive price for our European customers.  The latest data available from the European Commission shows the French light lamb at €9.82/kg and the Spanish light lamb at €7.42/kg (week ending 15th May).  Our lamb is currently cheaper than the French but not the Spanish lamb, which has an impact on the export potential at the moment.

SAC are holding a Sheep in the Uplands event on the 4th of July at Ballindalloch Home Farm, Morayshire where we will be hosting a panel debate, on “How does the sheep industry prepare for the future” Register here:
Sheep in the Uplands Tickets, Tue 4 Jul 2023 at 10:15 | Eventbrite

The chart at the foot of the page shows the change over from old season SQQ to new season for the week ending 13th May.

Deadweight prices may be provisional. Auction price reporting week is slightly different to the deadweight week. Source: AHDB and IAAS
Standard weight 32.1 – 39.0kg; Medium weight 39.1 – 45.5kg; Heavy 45.6 – 52.0kg

Kirsten Williams; 07798617293

sheep in the highlands

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