Sheepmeat prices have dropped beneath last year’s in the major sheepmeat producing countries in the EU as deliveries of new season lambs increase, in line with seasonal trends.
According to the latest analysis by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), prices were now 9 per cent lower in Ireland, 7 per cent lower in France and 4 per cent lower in Spain.
In the UK, current prices stand 5-6 per cent lower than a year ago and in the most recent week are at their lowest level since 2015.
Since May, more benign weather and good grass growth, when compared to last year, have influenced growth rates.
The number of new season lambs slaughtered and carcase weights across the UK have been higher than last year, leading to an increase in meat production through May and June of about 12 per cent.
Stuart Ashworth, director of economics services at QMS said: “Auction market throughputs during July suggest an increase in production continuing during July.
“However, it is worth noting the current level of domestic production is lower than it was in 2017.”
Sterling weakness has contributed to stronger exports in the first five months of 2019 and particularly firm trade during May. Growth in exports has benefited from reduced deliveries to Europe by New Zealand, down 22 per cent in the first half of 2019 with it sending more to China and the USA.
"This has created an opportunity for UK sheepmeat exporters who have seen significant increase in deliveries to Germany, the Netherlands and Italy as well as growth to France,” he said.
Despite lower breeding ewe numbers last autumn, more favourable weather conditions suggested a lamb crop similar in size to last year so higher slaughterings now may mean more modest slaughterings through August, offering some short term stability.
“However, this is to ignore the lack of clarity that still exists over Brexit,” said Mr Ashworth.