Lamb supply gives green light to marketing

By Peter Grimshaw

SUPERMARKETS usually delay buying new-season lamb until they are convinced that supplies are plentiful. That point appears to have arrived, triggered by the early spring.

Gloucester market reported a big demand for 36-38kg new-season lambs. Buyers paid up to 140p/ kg.

But at Exeter, it was a different picture altogether, with lamb prices falling away by as much as £10 a head from the two previous weeks, at 111p/kg. “Many were up to 21kg, and should have been sold a fortnight ago,” said auctioneer Alan Venner.

The Tesco supermarket chain started to roll out its spring lamb promotion in 40 southern stores three weeks ago, and this will extend to others as lambs become available.

Meanwhile, finishers are hurrying old-season hoggets off the farm as quickly as they can, aware that buyers “charge” for removal of specified risk material in 12-month-old sheep.

Gloucester auctioneer Gavin Loynes had the biggest hogget sale of this season on Monday, with 3,000 sold. His advice to anyone still with hoggets is “get them sold once they are over 44kg”.

There was a similar picture at Exeter, which sold 1300 hoggets to a respectable 101p/ kg. And Meat and Livestock Commission officials are convinced that as numbers tail off, the underlying price trend will improve.

“In the past week or 10 days, the price has been running up quite nicely,” says the MLCs David Croston.

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