16 October 1998

Upturn for lamb prices at last…

LAMB prices turned up this week, bringing farmers hope the downward trend has come to an end.

With sterling back from its summer high of nearly 10, to 9.36 francs, on Monday, prices at auction rose more than 3p, to 73p/kg.

John Kearns of abattoir Lloyd Maunder says currency movements have made exporting easier. "But theres still a lot more needed."

A seasonal boost to demand in France is also evident on the back of domestic promotions. "November and December are traditionally good months in France. We could move up another gear.

"Supermarkets at home have gone all-out to push lamb and put it in front of the customer," adds Mr Kearns.

Rob Meadmore, auctioneer at Hay-on-Wye, is also more bullish, after seeing sharper export and home demand this week. "I think we have turned the corner. "Trade normally starts to harden once the August, September and October glut of lambs passes," he adds.

Adam Day, auctioneer at Cockermouth, Cumbria, says a more orderly marketing pattern – expected after last seasons bottleneck – and the prospect of less New Zealand imports also bodes well for next spring.

And early-bought stores could pay well, he reckons. At one Cockermouth offering in September, stores averaged less than £19, compared with £37 a year before.

"Dont be frightened to feed them. If you are going to do the job, do it properly. Its not the year to be trying to sell under-finished lamb."