By FWi staff

POOR weather has seen lamb numbers tighten, preventing further falls in the market price.

Like many, Brightwells Nick Champion of Tenbury market, Worcestershire, has seen the quality of lambs decline as prolonged wet weather affects finishing.

Many of this weeks entry lacked sufficient flesh and produced a very mixed trade.

Best Continental sorts were making between 88-96p/kg, Suffolks 85-88p/kg, but leaner lambs were back at 81-84p/kg, he reports.

Tighter supplies have kept buyers active throughout the week with last Fridays trade almost on a par with the stronger, opening Monday markets.

Meat & Livestock Commission figures for the period ending 10 July showed the early markets started at an SQQ of 85.58p/kg to ease slightly midweek to 84p, but recover to 84.89p/kg (a fall of just 0.6p/kg over the week).

At Frome, auctioneer Chris Reeks says poor weather is helping ensure 38-44kg lambs are highly sought-after, averaging 86.5p/kg with the best, heavier entries up at 90p/kg.

Overall, the national trade is only marginally back on last year, but that masks the fact that numbers were over 31,000 head down in June compared with the same period last year.

The corresponding SQQ values were down 2.6p/kg to average 94.61p/kg, according to the MLC.

Some retailers have noted a slightly softer trade for new season supplies although the reasons are not easy to identify, says Sainsburys Tony Sullivan.

However, Tesco reports fresh lamb sales are up following the decision not to lift prices when new season supplies arrived.

It followed a trial in 100 stores last year that suggested the 10-15% price increase cut initial sales by up to 30%.

But there is some optimism. National Sheep Association chief executive John Thorley suggests the market is starting to show some signs of stability.

Recent export opportunities, due to a weaker Pound, are helping ease pressure as lamb numbers continue to build in the north.

Any improvement will be welcome with the onset of the main breeding sales later this month, he adds.