Views sought on overhauling lamb price weight bands

Industry levy bodies have called for views on proposed changes to the standard quality quotation (SQQ) price for prime lambs, which may no longer reflect modern market requirements.

The SQQ is an average price for all lambs marketed within predefined weight bands of 25.5kg and 45.5kg. For many years the range has been used as an indicator of market requirements.

But those requirements have changed since its introduction and auction market prices now peak at the higher end of the SQQ range at about 40kg.

See also: Auctioneer fears dramatic lamb price fall post Brexit

Prices then fall away either side of this point, rather than at the mid-point of the SQQ, according to the AHDB. 

Earlier this year, buyers called for change as the SQQ no longer reflected weights preferred by retailers. It also fails to account for production improvements influenced by better genetics and nutrition.

The levy boards – AHDB, Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) and Quality Meat Scotland – responded by  canvassing auction markets, processors and farm industry bodies.

The majority suggested the SQQ weight bands should be changed and this prompted the launch of a wider consultation and survey. 

AHDB Beef & Lamb strategy director Laura Ryan urged all levy payers to have their say.

“We are now seeking the industry’s view and would like to hear whether the current SQQ weight bands should be changed.”

The consultation is open until 31 December and any changes needed will be implemented in spring 2018.

AHDB five-minute SQQ survey

The consultation is formed around a short survey which asks respondents  to rank three auction market weight band options:

A. No change to current weight bands

B. Remove the “light” weight band

C. All weight bands redefined

Each option is detailed in a table and suggests the weight bands, highlighted in green, which would be included in the SQQ.  It also shows the number of lambs and the resultant SQQ price.

SQQ weight band options are shown in green bands Option A Option B Option C
Weight band Weight (kg)
Superlight 17 up to 25.5 0 up to 25.5 0 to 27.9
Light 25.5 up to 32.1 25.5 up to 32.1 28 to 33.0
Standard 32.1 up to 39.1 32.1 up to 39.1 no standard weight
Medium 39.1 up to 45.6 39.1 up to 45.6 34 to 41.9
Heavy 45.6 to 52 45.6 to 52 42 to 47.9
Superheavy Over 52 Over 52 48 and over
SQQ weight range 25.5 up tp 45.6 32.1 up to 45.6 34 to 47.9
Total number of lambs 5,752,140 5,752,213 5,752,213
Number of lambs in green bands 4,233,654 3,960,476 4,398,959
% of lambs in green bands 74% 69% 76%
Price of lambs in green bands (/kg) 177.99 179.37 178.82
All figures based on the 2016-17 seasonal year (June 2016 to May 2017) in Great Britain

Complete the survey online