UFU extremely concerned by drop in lamb prices

Wednesday, 24 July, 2013

Ulster Farmers’ Union Beef and Lamb Policy Chairman Robert Davidson is extremely concerned that lamb prices have dropped considerably in recent weeks with factory quotes falling back from 455p/kg to below £4/kg.    

Robert Davidson said; “Farmers are concerned that lamb prices have fallen so quickly in recent weeks given that many producers are still suffering the after effects of the first half of this year’s horrendous weather and feed costs.  Producers are aware that the lamb trade normally comes under some pressure at this time of year when more lambs are coming forward however; it is alarming to see such a significant drop in price within such a short period of time.  The kill has increased slightly this year but not enough to warrant such a rapid nosedive in prices. 

“We are also frustrated that the price differential with Great Britain remains, with the lamb trade in Northern Ireland lagging substantially behind the rest of the UK.  Last week it was reported that the deadweight lamb price in Northern Ireland was 430.5p/kg, whereas GB was reporting 483.9p/kg.  This is an indefensible difference of 53.4p/kg or around £10 per lamb.  Local Producers are really fed up with their lamb being devalued when it is of the same quality and origin as that being produced by their GB counterparts and as with the beef trade, there can be no justification for this price differential.

“Going forward producers need more stability and security of price if they are to plan ahead.   Processors must build confidence in the market with positive returns if they want to increase production and attract the younger generation otherwise the reality is that there will be no incentive to enter the industry and production is liable to drop considerably.” 

While the UFU would encourage farmers to slaughter lambs when they are ready and to avoid allowing them go above the stated weight threshold of 18-21kg, it is possible that under these circumstances lambs could be taken to heavier weights and exported to Republic of Ireland.