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Agribusiness News March 2023 – Sheep

28 February 2023

Hogg Trade Remains Depressed

The hogg trade has continued to be dampened with lower prices than we have experienced in the last number of years.  With a typical prime lamb being back in the region of £16/head on the year (SQQ  £5.86/kg 19/02/22 V £5.11/kg DW 18/02/23).

Typically, lamb trade is influenced by various factors including, supply, demand, international trade and currency exchange.

The euro is currently at a favourable trading level (1 euro = £0.879 23/02/22).  However, in the UK AHDB have predicted the 2022 lamb crop was 3% higher than 2021 resulting in a total of an estimated 17.7 million lambs, increasing our supply to the market.  While our production has increased, the national consumption has fallen mainly due to recession and consumers choosing cheaper sources of protein.

Some are commenting that the supermarkets look to be stocking an increased level of NZ lamb.  But looking at data from beef and lamb NZ for October to January over the last three years, the trend is for less lamb coming into the UK and more lamb entering the closer market of China.

In addition to the increased supply and reduced demand, the number of lambs that are being marketed as prime, which are light and under finished may also be impacting the prime price.

We have seen the price fluctuate slightly in the last month for lambs, this is largely due to producers reacting to the trade.  In a week that there are less lambs and trade is improved, the following week, more lambs come forward, which then decreases the price.

Religious Festival Timing

The Muslim festival Ramadan will start on the 22nd of March and finish on the 21st April.  While Easter is in the middle of this, being the 9th of April.  This March and April timing will be towards the end of hoggs, which as supply reduces, and demand increases, the price should benefit.


The ewe trade has been similar to the lamb trade, with the edge being taken off previous years prices.  The average ewe price is back ~£17 on the year (Scottish average £88.43 19/02/22 Vs £71.36 18/02/23).  With many producers now scanning, barren sheep are coming forward to the sale ring, while the domestic demand is depressed.  However, many are reporting good scannings and a low volume of barren ewes.  This may assist in reducing a vast volume in supply over the coming month as scannings for late lambing flocks progress.

Kirsten Williams; 07798617293


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