Lamb prices sizzle as pound waivers
Published:  14 November, 2016

As we reach autumn there is a spring in the step of sheep farmers as returns from the market exceed last year, when they failed to cover the cost of production. The major impact in this has been the fall in the value of sterling post-referendum, which has made British lamb far more competitive in European markets. 

This, coupled with the lower availability and more expensive NZ product, the timing of key religious festivals to increase demand and lot of low-quality grass that hasn’t ‘finished’ lambs, has kept supply and demand in balance and farmgate prices high.

This creates challenges as there can be some resistance to headline shelf prices by the consumer – something farmers need to be aware of as we plan for the future.

It’s also great to see more major retailers increase their use of British lamb, with The Co-op going to year-round sourcing and Marks & Spencer increasing the length of its season. This provides a boost to the industry in the uncertain post-referendum times.

However, the value of breeding sheep at the autumn sales, although stronger than last year, has not risen as much as predicted, given finished lamb values. This indicated two things: a lack of long-term confidence and a need to balance the books after last year’s losses.

Let’s hope prices remain strong, the retailers commit to British lamb and consumers continue to support our products.