There was a steady tone to the lamb prices at the factories for the opening days of this week as more stability returns to the sector.
The change over to the new season stock is nearing completion which is benefiting the returns to producers, but for those with hoggets still on hand, both the time and price is beginning to run out for 2012.
Unchanged prices have been quoted by the processors for the lambs ranging 550-560 cents/kg (196p-200p/lb) plus the quality bonus for this week with a mix of all in prices at 555 cents/kg also on offer.
There are still some hoggets moving for the winding up of the trade for the season, but prices on offer have weakened by up to 20-25 cents/kg.
There is, however, a wide range with quotes varying from 420 cents/kg to 430 cents/kg and some processors offering all in prices at up to 15-20 cents/kg higher.
There has also been a noticeable weakening in the trade for the lambs at some of the marts sales this week.
Trade in the UK for both old season and new season lamb weakened over the past week on the back of lower demand from the French market.
While the pound has continued to strengthen against the euro, this is impacting on the competitiveness of UK lamb on export markets. By last weekend new season lambs were making the equivalent of 602 cents/kg.
In France, some slight decrease in demand was reported, as consumption settled down following the latest bank holiday.
Also, more Spanish and Portuguese product was emerging across Southern France which was affecting trade. Prices for limited numbers of Irish grade 1 Spring lamb were reported to range 580-600 cents/kg by the end of the week.
There was 400 head on offer at Fermoy Mart on Monday where lambs sold for €66-€82 over and hoggets made €21-€43 over.
An entry of 780 head at Kilkenny Mart on Monday met with a difficult trade. Butchers paid €60-€70 over for the lambs and factory agents bought at €60-€68 over.
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