Lamb prices falter, but uplift in demand forecast for late June

Spring lamb prices have started to drop back as more lambs come forward, but this should only be temporary as further support is forecast to come from the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha on 28 June.

Prices are now almost 20p/kg below the same week last year, with the GB new-season lamb SQQ falling 35.5p/kg to average 673.6p/kg deadweight for the week ending 10 June.

Throughput at auction marts for new-season lambs was up 20% on the week with lambs averaging 310.5p/kg liveweight on 13 June.

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Rizvan Khalid, managing director at Shropshire-based Euro Quality Lambs, said demand for lamb exports was really poor from the Continent.

This was due to prices being above historic levels and the exchange rate movement making the euro weaker against the pound, according to Mr Khalid. The pound stood at €1.17 on Wednesday 14 June.

Hannah Clarke, AHDB senior analyst, said the gap between GB and French prices had closed over recent weeks, which could limit export growth if it persists.

However, the tight supply situation on the Continent was likely to remain a key draw on UK supplies, she added.

Kantar data shows sales of lamb at retail have been mixed in recent months, with prices up 9% to average £10.82/kg, but this higher price point has led to slightly less volumes being sold overall.

Eid al-Adha

Farmgate prices for lambs and hoggs are typically supported by increased demand in the build-up to Eid al-Adha.

“The religious festivals are about two weeks away now and next week is when we expect to see the demand for that materialise,” said Mr Khalid.

He indicated there were two types of lambs in demand, with lighter export lambs wanted before the festival and older, well-fleshed lambs in demand for Eid al-Adha.

“The spec for the pre-qurbani trade is the normal lean sort of lamb, usually at about 17-18kg deadweight for the UK market and 19-20kg for the French market,” he said.

For the festival itself, Mr Khalid said the animal had to be the right age and slaughtered at the right time.

“It shouldn’t be a young lamb; it should be at least six months old and at least 40kg plus liveweight.”

There is also demand for tup lambs as part of the festival, especially on the Continent, and auctioneers said there was already a premium for heavier animals.


Spring lambs are making in the region of €7.50-€7.80/kg (641-666p/kg) deadweight in Ireland.

Irish Farmers Association sheep chairman Kevin Comiskey said spring lamb numbers remained tight on the ground, while hogg supplies continued to drop off.

Mr Comiskey added that the removal of the residency period from the export criteria for sheep for direct slaughter had removed a major obstacle for trade within the EU.

These changes make live exports from Ireland to Europe easier and mean exporters are able to compete with buyers at auction marts for finished lambs.

“Demand for lamb is increasing. Numbers are extremely tight and there is additional competition for factories, which must translate into higher prices,” he said.