Further gains for EU lamb prices

European heavy lamb prices continue to improve as limited New Zealand imports spark greater demand for home-produced lambs.

Since the turn of the year, GB prices have risen by 10%, to average €5.20/kg (£4.54/kg), according to AHDB Meat Services‘ EU Market Survey. “For most of January and February prices were below 2010 levels, as higher slaughterings – up 8% on the year – stifled prices.”

However, EU supplies have tightened due to reduced imports from New Zealand, the report says. “The export lamb slaughter for the first four months of their new season was down 14% as producers culled high numbers of ewes and increased ewe lamb retentions.”

During the first quarter of 2011, New Zealand used just 22% of its 227,854t EU import quota, compared with 31% a year ago. “This was somewhat offset by increased Australian usage, up to 22% of their 18,786t quota, compared with 15% a year ago.”

The reduced availability has boosted demand for GB lambs, driving prices up throughout March. “The GB reference price, as of 20 March, was 14% higher than at the same point last year.” The EU-25 average was 9% up, at €5.28/kg (£4.61/kg).

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