Lamb prices slide as more animals hit market

Liveweight lamb prices in Great Britain (GB) began to decline in the past week, after higher numbers have been coming to the market, according to AHDB Beef & Lamb.

In the week ended 17 August, the price of lambs at auction markets in Great Britain declined compared with the previous week. The GB SQQ was down by 3p on the week at 186.4p/kg. However, sharper falls seen at this time last year meant the gap between this year’s and last year’s prices grew, with 2016 prices 41p higher than those of 2015.

Larger falls were seen as the week progressed, with the GB SQQ on Wednesday 17 August down by 7p at 183.5p/kg. Prices have fallen as higher numbers of lambs have been coming to the market.

The number of lambs coming to GB markets continued to be up compared with both the previous week and 2016 levels. In the week ended 17 August, numbers were 2% above the previous week and 9% higher than 2015 levels. Higher numbers are likely to have been driven by higher prices and more lambs getting to market weight following a slower start to the season.

Deadweight lamb prices in the week ended 13 August rose by 11p compared with the previous week to 417.4p/kg. This meant the difference compared with last year grew to 76p above. This is likely due to some further weakening of the currency during the week, while estimated slaughterings were lower than the previous week.

Estimated slaughterings in the week were 4% lower than both the previous week and the same week in 2015.

The percentage of the retail price for lamb being paid to producers has been relatively stable in the past few months. However, as this measure normally falls at this time of year, it has moved well above last year’s level.

In July, the measure was at 52%, level with the previous month. However, this was 10 percentage points above the level from the previous year and the highest level since 2013. This was the first time it had moved above the five-year average since early 2015. This is due to a large increase in the average producer price for lamb compared with the previous year, following the weakening of the pound and tight supplies.

At the same time, the average retail price has actually seen a marginal decline during the same period, falling by 1%.

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