Lamb prices fall as supplies pick up

Average lamb prices have fallen significantly over the past fortnight as the effects of higher throughputs and slower retail demand start to be felt.

The latest AHDB market survey said the new season lamb SQQ price averaged 211.6p/kg in the week-ending 19 May, down by more than 16p/kg on the previous week.

Prices for old season lambs were somewhat more stable, falling by just over 3p/kg to 182.3p/kg last week.

The recent falls followed a period of tight supplies and strong prices. The report said total throughputs at British auction markets since the beginning of April had been 40% lower than the same period in 2009, largely due to a shortage of good quality grazing and slower lamb growth rates following the protracted winter.

This supply constraint resulted in prices being consistently above year earlier levels, with the SQQ in the week-ending 8 May reaching 233.4p/kg, some 17p/kg higher than last year.

The reduced number of lambs available for slaughter during the first four months also resulted in mutton and lamb production falling over 16% (16,000t) to just over 80,000t.

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