Lamb in plentiful supply

Good spring weather has led to an increased number of lambs reaching the market, with auction prices firm, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

The QMS analysis reveals that the number of lambs reaching Scottish auctions is around 15% higher than last year, with a 25% increase in supply in England and Wales. Compared to two years ago, England and Wales are also better supplied, while auction prices currently appear strong.

Stuart Ashworth, QMS’ head of economics services, said: “It is pleasing for producers that auction prices are currently matching last year’s and are well up on two years ago, alongside a better supplied market.”
“Nevertheless, as volume increases – and typically deliveries in mid-June are seven times the level of mid-May in Scotland and double in England and Wales – prices inevitably begin to fall. Producers will be hoping the fall during June is more in line with the 5% fall during June 2013 than the 9% fall during June 2012.”

With good supplies of spring lamb available, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is urging British retailers, meat processors and caterers to focus on British lamb. NFU livestock board chairman and sheep farmer Charles Sercombe said: “British farmers expect retailers to be marketing British lamb to the consumer as ‘Best in Season’ at the moment, putting it front and centre of their displays.

“We will be monitoring the lamb available on shelves this year to ensure the consumer gets the best in season. With the ample supply of British lamb this year, there is absolutely no excuse for not ensuring that our new-season, spring lamb is at the forefront of any offering.”

Across Europe lamb prices are also strong, which is helping to support the whole market, according to QMS. “French farmgate prices are currently 8% higher than last year, while Spain has seen even bigger increases for heavy lambs. Producer prices are also much higher than last year in important UK export markets like Belgium and Germany,” said Ashworth. 

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