Lamb prices ease back as new season supplies grow

Lamb prices have continued to ease back after highs driven by demand from religious festivals, and as new season lamb boosts supplies.

Both liveweight and deadweight prices fell, according to AHDB collated data.

For liveweight sales, old season lamb (OSL) GB SQQ prices dropped by 8.7p/kg, to average 262.9p/kg in the week ending 26 May.

As supplies of OSL continued to decline, new season lamb (NSL) made up 62% of all throughputs in the latest week. With more NSL coming through, the GB SQQ averaged 323.4p/kg, down 2.1p/kg on the previous seven days.

Estimated throughput of both OSL and NSL at GB auction marts totalled 88,900 head, up 12% on week-earlier figures but down 10% on the same week last year.

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Deadweight prices have also weakened.

In the week ending 22 May the GB OSL SQQ averaged 640.0p/kg, down 23p/kg, while the GB NSL SQQ averaged 669.4p/kg, down 54.8p/kg.

The lower prices reflect a seasonal pattern of softening once Easter and Ramadan have come to a close and the supply of NSL crop comes onstream.

However, AHDB analyst Duncan Wyatt has warned that this year’s exceptional highs could have prompted additional resistance from retailers.

Speaking last week as prices began to drop, Mr Wyatt suggested that some retailers may be baulking at higher prices and the sector should consider the possibility that buyers could reduce orders.

Easter lamb sales soar

Despite the seasonal reduction in lamb prices, the Easter trade saw more shoppers switch from chicken to lamb than to any other meat. AHDB analysis shows that sales rose by 42% compared with the Covid-19-hit 2020 market.

AHDB retail insight analyst Grace Randall said Easter was a key celebration for all roasting joints, particularly lamb, with 15% of annual sales coming during the period.

“Last year, many didn’t celebrate Easter or turned to chicken due to lockdown restrictions, but this year we have certainly seen a significant return to lamb,” Ms Randall said.

“The rules of only mixing outside brought a new opportunity to Easter this year by the way of barbecues, which we could see continuing into next year,” she suggested.