Uncertain switch to Scottish new-season lamb

Old-season hoggets are drying up, leading to a pick-up in volume for new-season lamb, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) has revealed.

However, this has led to uncertainty, the organisation said, as major retailers are now making a judgement call about switching to new-season products. "The market can be a little nervous until that happens," said QMS head of economics services Stuart Ashworth.

He explained the switch-over had been further complicated by the slow growth rates of new-season lambs and the negative impact of the Schmallenberg virus on early lambing flocks and the higher volumes of hoggarts available late into the season.

According to Ashworth, slaughter statistics for hoggets during March were 9% up on the previous year and said such a trend had continued through April, with auction sales up more than 20%. "However, most of these hoggs have been marketed at lighter weights, so although slaughterings in March may have been up 9%, the weight of bone-in meat produced was only 3% higher," he said.

"As we move through May, there are still significant numbers of hoggs on the market with volumes more than one-third higher than last year. In early May hoggs were still accounting for around 80% of all prime sheep marketing compared with 60% at this time last year."


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