Positive outlook for lamb despite higher production

The lamb market is set to remain strong for the next 12 months despite UK consumers resisting current price levels, says EBLEX.

Tight supplies across Europe and in New Zealand are expected to help maintain market prices.

The 2011 UK lamb crop is set to increase in the coming season as lambing rates recover slightly from last year’s low level. This will mark the first increase in the national lamb crop for six years.

Breeding ewe numbers have been falling by an average of 3 to 4% each year since 2004, but the 2010 UK census showed a slight rise in breeding ewe numbers and a 9% increase in the number of ewe lambs retained for first time breeding.

Producers in New Zealand suffered their lowest national lambing percentage last year since the mid-1990s when they were hit by bad weather. As a result, UK sheepmeat imports are forecast to remain a good 10% lower than in 2008 and 2009.

Lamb production is also expected to fall in Ireland and France while UK sheepmeat exports are forecast at 95,000t for 2011, a 1000t increase on last year.