Lamb Price Cuts Unjustified Says UFU

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The severe cut in prices for lambs by local processors this week is not justified and is nothing more than an attempt to knock producer confidence, according to the UFU beef and lamb chairman, Crosby Cleland.

Sheep prices are causing concern
Cuts in sheep prices by processors are causing concern among farmers.

Local processors have cut their prices this week by 30p/kg or £6 per lamb, leaving quotes around 365p/kg. “This drop in prices is completely unjustified as there has been no great surge in numbers recently. Local slaughter numbers are lower than both the same time last year and in 2014,” said Mr Cleland, and he added that there has also been “much greater activity by southern buyers in the market due to the strength of the Euro against Sterling. To date the favourable exchange rate has boosted live market competition, something which local processors have had difficulty dealing with.

“The fact that GB deadweight prices continue to return more than £4/kg shows that the market is capable of passing back more to farmers. This demonstrates that the local price cuts are nothing more than an attempt by processors to knock producer confidence in the hope that this jolts farmers into panic sales,” warned Mr Cleland.

With the store lamb trade off to a good start, Mr Cleland noted that producers now have another option to market their lambs, especially those that do not yet have the desired finish. “Marketing in-spec lambs no heavier than 21kgs is still most desirable carcase to satisfy the widest range of markets.

“I would encourage farmers to keep making every effort to sell their lambs’ in-spec. Holding onto lambs in the hope of improved prices risks bringing more out of spec lambs on the market and these overweight lambs will increase the amount of meat in circulation. Unfortunately this will only give processors more excuses to pull prices further on the lambs which do meet market specification,” said Mr Cleland.