Market report: Lamb prices post sharp increase

Lamb prices jumped sharply last week, driven by strong export demand and abattoirs competing to maintain lamb supplies.

In the week ended 21 November the GB deadweight SQQ price for an R3L lamb averaged 353p/kg – a rise of 18.2p/kg in a week, and almost 78p/kg higher than the same week a year ago.

Liveweight trade is similarly firm, with the average SQQ price increasing by 6.3p/kg in the week ended 24 November, to 162.2p/kg, despite an 11% rise in throughput. Light lambs were in particularly strong demand, jumping by 7.9p/kg to 160.3p/kg. Cull ewe values continued their upward trend, averaging £53.87/head – £1.37 up on the week.

Meanwhile, UK clean sheep slaughterings in October fell by 2% year-on-year, to 1.5m head, bringing the cumulative throughput for the year so far down by 6%, to 11m head, said AHDB. Cull ewe slaughterings in the year to date were also down by 6%, to 1.8m head.

However, average lamb carcass weights in October increased slightly, to 18.9kg, partially offsetting the lower slaughterings. Even so, total sheep meat production for the year to date is still 6% lower than last year, at 252,700 tonnes.