Lamb prices reach record high

Lamb prices reached a record high for early January in the first week of 2010.
A supply shortage combined with the shorter processing weeks over the holiday period and bad weather hindering transport have all resulted in a sharp increase in the deadweight sheep price over the last two weeks.

In the week ending 2 January, the average price reached 424p/kg – a 15% increase on the start of the month. Prices eased to 419p/kg this week, but processors expected them to remain firm for the forseeable future. Meanwhile liveweight prices at auction were 199.3p/kg in the week ending 9 January – the highest for 15 years. It is a similar picture north of the border as Quality Meat Scotland reported liveweight prices last week of £2/kg.

Jonathan Eckley, regional manager for south-east Eblex, said: “The market is quite volatile. The price is probably unsustainable at this level, although it will stay firm because supplies are tight.”

However, Eckley added that the rise would have little effect on the retail price in the short-term, as there was plenty of New Zealand product around, which meant it would have to remain competitive. “Processers will have to bite the bullet,” he said.

For December, the average deadweight SQQ was 381p/kg, an 11% increase on November’s average price and a third higher than in December 2008. In the same week last year the price was 313.3p/kg. Deadweight prices have been regularly recorded since 2001.