Lamb carcasses hanging up in abattoir© FLPA/John Eveson/Rex Shutterstock

Lower demand has pushed finished lamb prices back a touch.

In the week to Tuesday (23 August), SQQ lambs averaged 180.5p/kg, a drop of 7.4p/kg on almost 4% fewer lambs than the previous week.

While still well up on last year, prices are on a seasonal downward trend, with the summer holidays slightly reducing domestic demand.

Although throughput was down overall, the level of price change has been variable, with higher numbers in some areas pushing prices down.

See also: Weak pound helps increase lamb producer share of retail price

Auctioneer Alastair Brown of Bletsoes said good harvest progress was probably a big factor in the increase of lambs at Stratford to 750 on Tuesday compared with just over 400 head in the same week last year.

Prices at Stratford dipped slightly this week to average 183.5p/kg and reached a top of 187p/kg. This compares with an average of 137.1p/kg in the same week last year and a top price of 140p/kg.

Tighter lamb numbers

Looking ahead, finished lamb numbers could be tighter than had been expected, said Mr Brown. 

The store trade had been helped by the better finished lamb trade and both in turn had benefited from the drop in the value of the pound, although export buyers may have been less active this week in advance of the bank holiday.  

UK lamb slaughterings reached 1.1 million head in July, up 3% year on year. This would make July the first month where slaughterings had increased since December 2015, said AHDB.

However, it warned the figures should be treated with some caution as all three species had shown more volatility in the past three months of data.

Reflecting poor grass growth, the average lamb carcass weight of 19kg in July was 0.4kg lower than the same month last year. Adult sheep slaughterings in July were up 8% on the previous year at 143,500 head, with carcass weights here dropping 2.5kg to average 25.9kg.

These numbers mean that overall sheep meat production in the first seven months of 2016, at 155,300t, was 6% lower than in the same period in 2015.