Lamb prices have been subject to three price cuts over the last week.

Factories reduced quotes at the end of last week, at the start of the week and again for Thursday.

The cuts range from 50c/kg to 70c/kg leaving a 21kg carcase worth €10 to €15 less on the week.

The two Irish Country Meats plants in Camolin and Navan have established themselves as the price leader in the quotes table since Dawn Meats’ acquisition of Kildare Chilling.

The plants in Camolin and Navan are quoting a base of €8.30/kg plus 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment, while Ballon Meats are quoting €8.50/kg all-in.

The other competing plants not offering an official quote are reported as offering opening quotes of €8.30/kg to €8.40/kg for QA lamb.

This leaves groups and regular sellers trading at the higher end of the market securing top prices of €8.50/kg to €8.65/kg, depending on the payment mechanism in place.

Factories are slow to quote beyond the next 24 to 48 hours, with quotes listed here for Thursday.

Factories are blaming poorer demand in key export markets, compounded by markets readjusting following peak buying last week for the Islamic religious festival of Eid al-Adha.

The festival supported higher throughput last week of 63,325 head. While this represented an increase of almost 22,000 head on the previous week, tighter supplies prevented throughput from matching recent years high points of over 70,000 head.

The kill figure comprised 40,995 lambs, 17,897 hoggets and 4,430 ewes and rams.

Factories are trying to move their focus to lambs, but tight supplies again this week mean that hoggets are still a valuable component of the kill.

Quotes for hoggets have also fallen by 50c/kg to 70c/kg and are reported as ranging from €7.20/kg to €7.50/kg.

Northern trade

The live trade lamb price fell by £15 to £30/head in the last week. This stemmed primarily from the absence of buyers purchasing lambs for exporting live to Britain.

Factory base quotes for Thursday are in the region of £6.60/kg to £6.70/kg or the equivalent of €7.75/kg to €7.87/kg.

Prices have gone from a position of rivalling or exceeding prices in Ireland to now running significantly behind.

The number of sheep exported south last week increased by 1,200 head to 3,760, but remains below the norm for the time of year.

Ewe demand

Factories concentrated mainly on lambs and hoggets last week with less interest in ewes.

They appear to be using the opportunity to build on this lull in demand this week and have reduced quotes by 10c/kg in the main.

The majority of the larger plants are quoting €3.90/kg to €4/kg, with Ballon Meats well out in front with their quote of €4.40/kg for top-quality ewes.