Lamb prices start to rise

Lamb prices are beginning to pick up after declining over recent months, but they still remain lower than last year, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Stuart Ashworth, head of economics at QMS, said lamb prices had picked up over the past fortnight to stand at 150p/kg lightweight, an increase on 143p/kg three weeks ago. However, Ashworth noted that this was still 10% lower than last year’s prices.

Ashworth attributed low prices to an increase in supply and carcase weights, with UK abattoirs slaughtering 6.5% more sheep than last year. “The challenge for producers is to manage the orderly delivery of this increased supply onto the market within customer specification.

“Earlier this year there has been a higher than normal proportion of lambs exceeding the standard quality quotation upper weight limit of 45.5kg liveweight,” Ashworth added.

He was optimistic the increased lamb numbers would supply export markets where lamb supply was tighter – for instance France and Spain. However, this has met with difficulty over exchange rates as sterling remains strong against the euro, which is “more challenging” for Scottish and UK lamb exporters.

“Adding to this export pressure is weak consumer demand in Europe,” said Ashworth.

“France has seen the consumption of lamb decline by almost 7% during July, although the country’s domestic production fell by 3%. Over the longer period of January to July, however, consumption has increased slightly.”

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