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LAMMA 2021

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Record high lamb prices

Lamb prices have continued to move up across the UK, with firm demand and weak supply leading to some of the highest prices on record.

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Record high lamb prices

In the week ending March 10, the liveweight old season lamb SQQ rose by 13p/kg on the week to average 293.0p/kg, 88p/kg above the five-year average.

 

Farmgate prices for prime sheep since the beginning of 2021 have been some of the highest on record and Stuart Ashworth, director of economic services at Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), said it was an indication of firm demand and weak supply.

 

“Certainly, in the UK, slaughter data and auction market throughputs indicate a shortage of domestic supply,” he said.

According to Defra, January prime sheep slaughter volumes were down 18 per cent with auction market throughputs down.


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“Auction markets do though report an increase in the proportion of prime sheep sold falling within the SQQ weight range,” Mr Ashworth said.

 

Supplies

 

AHDB livestock analyst Charlie Reeve said the tight supply of lambs was reflected in the current high prices for both deadweight and liveweight lamb, with the deadweight old season lamb SQQ still in excess of £6/kg.

 

Mr Reeve said: “Throughputs do tend to fall during first few months of the year, with the monthly lamb kill picking up with the new season crop in the autumn.

 

“However, throughputs this February are well below the five-year-average, 126,000-head lower for the month.”

 

Average carcase weights did increase during February for the second month running with total sheep meat production at 18,000 tonnes, down 1,800t year-on-year.

 

“This is the lowest monthly production figure reported since May 2013,” Mr Reeve said.

 

Mr Ashworth said some of the reduction may be down to Covid-19 disruption but there was a smaller lamb crop reported in the June 2020 census.

 

Total slaughtering in the second half of 2020 experiencing little change from 2019, meaning a smaller carryover of hoggs into 2021.

 

He added the shortfall could be a combination of higher slaughter in December and holding back stock for Easter and Ramadan.

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