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Agribusiness News May 2024 – Sheep

1 May 2024

Where does it stop?!

The SQQ price for the week ending 20/04/24 was 860.5p/kg, an increase of 173.5p/kg on the year.  The phenomenal trade has continued to climb well after the typical peak in demand of Ramadan, with no sign of slowing down!  Defra have recently updated their predictions on the carryover of 2023 lambs into 2024, where it is thought that 4.1 million lambs were carried over into the new year for marketing between January and May – a fall of 4.3% or 185,000 less lambs than the previous year.  This was updated from the original figure of 430,000 or 10% due to ewe lambs that would normally have been retained for replacements being marketed to capitalise on the premium prime trade.

Fig 1: GB SQQ finished lamb price (deadweight). Source: AHDB

The most recent Defra slaughter statistics, March 2024 show clean sheep slaughter figures totalling 988,000 head (16% less than March 2023) and mutton and lamb production netted 24,000 tonnes (16% less than March 2023).Combined with producers pushing lambs on to sale in the premium market and the smaller carry over, there is every chance that the hogg trade could really cope with supply, helping to keep the price at the premium.

Certain areas of England have been especially hit with Schmallenburg and Blue Tongue Virus, which has reduced their scanning and lambing rates and hence the amount of new season lambs coming forward to market. AHDB have estimated 1.57 million lambs will enter the prime market up to the end of June, which is 82,000 less lambs than in 2023.  Lamb numbers are expected to be further hit by losses from the recent climatic challenges during April.

Global prices

Comparing global prices, for the week ending 13th April, UK lamb deadweight prices equated to 9.93 euros/kg.  With French lamb trading at 9.56 euros/kg, Irish lamb at 8.77 euros/kg and the Spanish lamb was 8.12 euros/kg.  In contrast to this, New Zealand lamb deadweight price was 3.42 euros/kg, almost a third of the cost of the UK product with Australian lamb trading marginally higher at 3.98 euros/kg. Import statistics typically lag a few months behind by the time they are submitted and reported (see Fig 2).

Fig 2: World Market Prices (Lamb carcasses) Source: European Commission

Eurostat EU import figures (Fig 3) show the price rises from January 2024 being linked to the decrease of the imports from Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay; with rises from “other” countries like Iran and Chile.

Fig 3: EU Import prices for sheep & goat meat (tonnes carcass weight). Source: Eurostat

Kirsten Williams; 07798617293

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



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