Lamb price squeeze expected to last

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Prices for liveweight sheep are likely to remain squeezed into the new year due with supply outstripping demand and an increased number of out-of-spec animals being marketed, EBLEX said.

The levy payers’ group said that while the kill level was only one per cent higher in August this year than last, average carcase weights are up two per cent and lamb numbers for September are estimated to be up three per cent compared to the same month last year.

The Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha may prove to be a short-term shot in the arm for prices, EBLEX sector director Nick Allen said, but supplies would still be plentiful through to the new year.

“There is always a seasonal drop in price as we hit peak supply levels for the market for sheep meat in October, but there are a number of factors at play which mean, this year, numbers are higher and they are coming onto the market sooner,” he said.

“There is no question that supply is outstripping demand at the moment, not just here but on export markets too.

“France, for instance, is our most important export market for sheep meat and they are struggling with a poor economic situation.”

Mr Allen added that he believed prices will recover but that it will take time.

“It is vitally important that producers sell when they hit spec rather than holding on to them just hoping for the price to turn the corner. It may be a while before it goes up significantly.”