LAMB producers are learning to their cost this week that volatility is not confined to the financial markets, as lamb prices at the factories tumble like nine-pins.
Watching the factory quotes for lambs sink into a landslide, losing up to 60 cents/kg since the opening of the trade last week, has made many producers feeling very despondent.
The signs were beginning to appear, but no one could have predicted such a downturn in such a short time, which has robbed the trade of any life that was in it.
Despite a fall in quoted prices to a base of 420 cents/kg (150p/lb) — a fall of up to 60 cents/kg — there was less interest from the factories in large supplies of lambs on Tuesday, when slaughtering resumed after the holiday week-end, and higher requirements to replenish stocks run down over the long weekend would have been expected.
The slump in the market has been partially blamed on consumer reaction to higher lamb prices in France, leading to a drop in demand and plunging the market into a difficult trading situation, resulting in prices falling by 20 cents/kg. Prices in Britain have come back by the equivalent of at least 30 cents/kg.
Although demand was reported to be steady for a smaller entry of 539 head at Fermoy Mart on Monday, the prices were sharply down compared to the very strong trade of the previous week.
Butcher’s lambs sold for €81 to 105 per head, which was equivalent to €40 to 53 over. The factory lots made €60 to 92 per head, or €35 to 46 over.
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