5 April 2002

Hogget trade in doldrums

HOGGET trade has slipped in the last few weeks in response to a weaker market across the Channel.

Average deadweight prices fell below 230p/kg for the week ending Mar 23, nearly 10p/kg lower than the week before and the trend is expected to continue.

In France, the equivalent stirling price has fallen dramatically from 276p/kg dw at the end of February to 240p/kg dw for the week ending Mar 23.

Jane Connor, Meat and Livestock Commission sheep economist, said developments in the French market are having an impact at home.

"There are a number of factors at play, but one of the main reasons has been a slip in the French lamb price."

As the gap between the French lamb market and the UK has closed, domestic prices have been under greater pressure, she explained.

"Theres not a great deal of scope between the two, partly because Frances own lamb production has come on stream slightly earlier to meet Easter. And as usual, Spain have started supplying the French market."

She added that domestic hogget quality was variable this year, with a few finishers holding on to lambs for Easter that went past their best. And Mrs Connor doesnt forecast prices picking up at the moment.

"There are quite a lot of hoggets about, which arent really in demand and could depress the price."

But the few new season lambs that have been sold so far have been good trade, with the best making in excess of 170p/kg liveweight (360p/kg dw). &#42