Welsh meat body reviews lamb performance

As it looked back over the last 12 months, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) reported a “fluctuating market for lambs” in 2014.

There was a promising start, it reported, with high prices at auction marts and strong demand. However a good lambing season saw lambs sent to market earlier than in the previous year, and increased numbers saw prices fall 20p in the first week of July.

The seasonal summer drop in prices came earlier than expected. Charlie Morris, HCC industry information officer, said: “This was due to the favourable conditions for rearing lambs and a greater availability of grass during the spring and early summer compared to 2013.

“We saw increased lambing rates, lambs being finished earlier, and more lambs available for slaughter. In total, an additional 350,000 lambs were slaughtered in the UK between June and November 2014.”

From July to mid-October, lamb liveweight prices were below the levels seen in 2012 and 2013, but increased demand domestically and overseas saw improvements moving into winter, with prices reaching around 190p/kg by late December.

Export levels between January and October dropped according to HMRC figures, due to a strong pound and weak consumer demand in some European countries.

Morris also forecast conditions for this year: “The outlook for 2015 suggests an increase in sheep-meat production, and a larger UK breeding flock could lead to an even higher lamb crop. This, however, will be largely influenced by lambing rates and seasonal conditions.

“Lamb prices will again depend on supply and consumer demand. The strength of the pound against the euro will also play a big part as it has such a direct impact on trade conditions.”

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