Lamb Prices Below Record Levels24 December 2012
NORTHERN IRELAND - The deadweight lamb price in Northern Ireland last week was 325.6p/kg, a 88p/kg reduction on the same week last year when the price was 413.7p/kg.
Lamb prices in 2011, however, were at record levels due to a scarcity of lambs so it may be beneficial to also consider 2010 prices for comparison purposes.
In the corresponding week in 2010 the deadweight lamb price was 370.4p/kg, 45p/kg above the current lamb price.
For the period June to September 2012 NI deadweight lamb prices were below the corresponding 2011 price levels but above 2010 prices.
However the NI deadweight lamb price dipped below 2010 prices in September and has been consistently below 2010 levels since then.
The deadweight lamb price in 2010 and 2011 followed the traditional pattern with a fairly steady deadweight lamb price over the summer months followed by a gradual rise in price from September onwards.
However this has failed to materialise in 2012 to date with the plants reporting strong supplies of lambs and a stickiness in the marketing of lamb.
Lamb prices have also come under pressure in GB in recent weeks with an average deadweight price last week of 355.5p/kg.
This reduces the differential between NI and GB to 40p/kg from 70p/kg at its widest during the summer months.
Last week the total Northern Irish lamb kill was 9,880 head, this is well above the corresponding week last year when throughput was 7,273 head (+36 per cent).
Lamb throughput in the NI plants for the year to date has been 373,823 head, a 47.6 per cent increase on the 253,239 killed during same period last year.
A major influence on throughput in the NI plants has been the level of exports to ROI for direct slaughter which for the year to date have accounted for 440,049 head.
In the same period last year live exports to ROI totalled 473,080 head, a seven per cent reduction year on year.
In addition to this 2,813 lambs were exported to GB for direct slaughter during 2012 to avail of higher prices there.
The increase in total lamb production in NI in 2012 may have been driven by improved confidence in the sheep sector in Autumn 2011 resulting in a growth in the breeding flock. The winter in 2011/12 was also milder compared to 2010/11 and this will also have helped with regard to the lamb crop The result of this has been increased lamb production and availability in NI in 2012.
If the total lamb throughput in the NI plants is combined with exports for direct slaughter lamb production in 2012 to date has been 89,788 ahead of the same period last year.
The average lamb carcase weight for the year to date has been almost unchanged between the two periods, 21.8kg in 2012 compared to 21.7kg in the same period in 2011.