8 December 1995

Lamb rises as shortages felt

FINISHED lamb prices continue to move upwards, with the Standard Quality Quotation reaching 119.9p/kg in the week ending Mon, Dec 4.

The increases have been seen since the beginning of September, at which time values were almost identical to year-earlier levels. By the end of November, however, averages stood at about 5p/kg above 12 months before.

The buoyant trade has resulted partly from low availability. September slaughterings were 11% less than in 1994; October levels are thought to be 8% down.

And though provisional figures show a rise in marketings in early November, demand at the same time was firming seasonally.

Exports, meanwhile, have remained strong, partly due to the weak £. Trade with France has expanded. And light and superlight lambs, in particular, have been sought by Italian and Spanish buyers.

MLC research shows Spain experienced firm domestic prices in the first half of the year, at times 10% up on 1994. And although live imports into the country decreased, sheepmeat imports rose.

Of all the EU countries analysed, however, the lamb reference price in Greece was the highest. At times in the first half of 1995, it was over 20% up on last year.

Despite this strong export movement, imports to the UK – especially from New Zealand – have also risen, says the MLC. &#42