QMS reports strong 2015 start for sheep
Published:  14 January, 2015

The sheep market is seeing a firm start to 2015, with hogg prices stronger than is typical at this time of the year, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

QMS head of economics Stuart Ashworth explained: “Typically the first few weeks of the year is a period when the market rebalances itself after the turmoil of the festive period.

“Consumers become more frugal with their regular food budget as they adjust to the eating and spending excesses of the holiday period. It is not uncommon to see cattle and hogg prices drift lower through January as the market adjusts.”

However, QMS said hogg prices had been edging higher at auction marts and were comparing favourably with prices 12 months ago. This has happened despite a higher volume of prime lambs and hoggs reaching the market than last year.

Ashworth added: “An equally striking feature of the current sheepmeat market is the particularly firm price of cull ewes. The strength in the cull trade is a reflection of the reduced numbers of cull animals reaching abattoirs,”

As well as underlying strength in the UK market, a contributory factor is likely to be the lower supplies in Europe. Ashworth said: “With the exception of Italy and Romania, all the major sheepmeat producing countries of Europe, and most of the small producers as well, have seen stock numbers slide. Ireland, for example, has seen lamb slaughtering in the final quarter of 2014 run around 7% lower than 2013.”