Update on sheep prices in Northern Ireland April 2021:
According to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC), Northern Ireland has recently recorded some of the “strongest deadweight hogget prices ever seen”, with reported hogget prices of £6.25 per kilo for the last two weeks of March 2021.
Quotes for R3 grade hoggets ranged from 610-620p/kg this week up to 22kg/23kg, with the local plants quoting 660-690p/kg up to 21kg for R3 grading spring lambs.
Throughput of hoggets/lambs in NI plants last week totalled 5,962 head, which was back 25% from the previous week. The inclusion of this throughput brings the total number of hoggets/lambs slaughtered in the first quarter of 2021 to 94,099 head, up 9% compared to the same period in 2020.
According to the LMC, exports of lambs/hoggets from NI to ROI for direct slaughter last week totalled 2,588 head, a 32 per cent decrease on the 3,821 lambs/hoggets exported to ROI during the same week in 2020.
Sheep prices Northern Ireland
“The average deadweight hogget price in NI last week was 610.3p/kg, back 14.7p/kg from the previous week. In ROI last week, the deadweight lamb/hogget price was back by the equivalent of 6.5p/kg to 616.7p/kg.”
Kantar reported that for the 12-week period December 27th, 2020, that total spend on lamb in the GB retail market had increased by 18.2% on the previous year with an almost 14% increase in volume and a 3.9% increase in the average price of lamb at retail.
What is driving demand?
“Some factors influencing the strength of hogget and lamb prices in the first quarter of 2021 have been the UK exit from the European Union and a series of supply and demand factors.” the LMC outlined.
“In 2020, it was clear from the UK trade data that much lower volumes of lamb and mutton came into UK markets, partly due to Covid-19 disruption to foodservice businesses but also due to less product being shipped to the UK by traditional exporters due to potential EU exit disruption as well as a stronger demand in some Asian markets such as China where meat import demand has continued to grow.
The LMC expects China to remain a strong driver of world sheepmeat markets in 2021. Besides, it also expects growth in imports from Australia as it rebuilds its domestic flock after the ravages of drought in recent years.
Besides, there may be some recovery in Middle Eastern and North African markets for sheepmeat. However, the resumption of global travel and the reopening of food service to tourists as they return to these destinations will influence this.
“What is clear is that the sheep sector in Northern Ireland remains a critically important part of the local agri-food industry.” the LMC added.
Sheep prices in the south
Meanwhile, according to the IFA, spring lamb prices have reached €8.20/kg.
Its sheep chairman, Sean Dennehy, reported that hoggets are “freely making” €7.70/kg, with higher deals available for larger lots.
He said the combination of the start of Ramadan next Monday and supermarket demand is driving the trade.