Prices up 6% for prime sheep in Scotland

The price that Scottish producers are receiving for prime sheep at auction continue to hold at 6% up on this time last year, according to the latest data from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Meanwhile the GB deadweight average increased 14.5% year-on-year.

Iain Macdonald, economics analyst, QMS, said that hogg prices were running well ahead of early 2013 levels, with the increase in price due to tight supplies.

Tightness in the market has been driven largely by better weather and feed availability during the second half of 2013, resulting in lamb growth rates being boosted and finishing periods being shortened, meaning fewer hoggs were carried into 2014, said QMS.  

“The latest slaughter data from Defra showed that in January 2014, Scottish abattoirs killed 2.5% more hoggs than a year earlier. However, at the UK level, supplies were much tighter with UK abattoir throughput 5.5% lower on the year at 1.04m head,” said Macdonald.  

He said the number of hoggs at price reporting abattoirs was down 12% year-on-year in February, while auction volumes fell 20% short in Scotland and 19% south of the boarder.

“With fewer hoggs, processors have had to bid higher to secure sufficient volumes to cover their orders.”

He continued: “While the 2013 lamb crop was around five percent smaller than a year earlier in Scotland, it was one percent higher at the UK level, meaning an additional 152,000 lambs on the ground.”

Macdonald pointed out that a tighter market does not necessarily follow on from lower supplies, and the demand factor is also key.

Looking at the current situation, auction supplies were down 24% year-on-year at the beginning of March but prices were up by just 6%, perhaps signalling a softening of demand, he said.

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