Prime lambs firm after plummeting £30-£35 a head
(C) Tim Scrivener
Hopes hang on prime lamb prices holding around the 250-260p/kg mark after values fell GBP30-GBP35 a head last month. With such volatile prices, many farms have opted to sit the market out, waiting for a premium on the largely scarce, heavier lambs at 42kg and more. However, prices remain historically high – GBP20-GBP25 a head up on the five-year average – but costs have risen to eat into profits.
Buyers on the continent turned to Romanian and Spanish lamb in June when live lambs were at 310p/kg, but returned to UK product once prices eased, according to Mohammed Akram, chairman of meat wholesaler Pak Mecca Meats. Mr Akram said the 520p/kg paid by exporting firms this week was competitive, with European lambs at 650-660c/kg (GBP5.50-GBP5.60/kg). He said stronger demand created by Eid al-Adha and the Qurbani festival would mostly be reflected in the cull ewe ring due to the timing of this year’s festival and with many lambs being too young to qualify.
The Saudi Arabian government has severely restricted the number of pilgrims to Mecca due to Covid-19, meaning far more mouths to feed at home and in Europe, he added. Mr Akram said passage into the EU, while a lot smoother than in the new year, was costing 5p/kg more than before Brexit because of vet checks, cleaning fees and other costs. He said: “This adds about GBP1,000 to a truck, which typically holds 900-1,000 lambs, so it’s about GBP1-GBP1.10 a carcass.
This was nearer GBP2,500 a truck back in the new year, or 10p/kg.”
Throughputs at St Asaph show how producers have reacted to falling prices and limited supplies by drawing fewer lambs. Numbers totalled 2,960 head and trade hit an SQQ of 294.39p/kg on 16 June. However, the falling prices elsewhere led to only 1,616 head and 249.14p/kg the following week (26 June).
Auctioneer Sion Williams and the Jones Peckover team have seen more farmers hold onto their lambs to reach higher weights as prices fell. Last week (1 July) numbers lifted to 3,308 and trade levelled at 260p/kg, up about 11p/kg. Mr Williams said: “A lot of lambs were sold at light weights this year and now a lot of people seem to have held back lambs for the increased demand around the Qurbani festival.
“Lambs have been incredibly dear at times, and this has possibly made exporters a little on and off, in terms of demand.
But Thursday saw better export demand.”
- ^ Lamb prices rally after plunge in deadweight values (www.fwi.co.uk)
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