Light lamb values causing increasing concern

Concern is growing at the low level of light lamb prices.

While standard and medium weight values are higher than a year ago, UK lightweight carcasses are up just 1.14% since November 2015.

The difficult economic situation in Mediterranean countries, traditional markets for light lamb, is making exports more challenging. 

See also: #WhamBamLamb campaign delivers sales value rise

Rising processing costs in the UK combined with the long-term trend of these markets dealing increasingly more in cuts than whole carcasses have made lightweight lamb less appealing to the Southern European market.

However, the current weakness of sterling should make it more appealing to the continent.

Farming bodies met in Wales last week to discuss falling market values for light lambs in the UK. 

Representatives from the National Sheep Association (NSA), NFU Cymru, Farmers Union Wales (FUW) and Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) met in Aberystwyth to analyse how current market trends were leading to a reduction in the value of lamb carcasses in the 25-32kg category. 

Growing differential

According to HCC head of operations Prys Morgan the price differential is growing between lightweight and standard lambs, which command around 20p/kg more than those in the lightweight category.

The number of lambs falling into the lowest weight categories is reducing, with around 15% of the total production of lambs in Wales currently falling into this light category according to the HCC.

Lightweight lambs account for closer to 30% of total production in the Monmouth market catchment, says auctioneer Mike Davis.

Price drop 

“If you look at lightweight prices a year ago, they have dropped around 2p/kg to 148p/kg.

“However, the weakness of the pound and a few other factors, such as Brexit, have seen medium weight carcasses increase by 10.4% in price in the past 12 months to 170p/kg.

“The demand isn’t the same this year with exporters not specifically looking for lighter weight carcasses. ”

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