THERE is optimism among sheep farmers that the worst may be over for the present, with price improvement turning the tide in their favour.
After three weeks of sharp price declines, there has been wide welcome for a general increase of 10 cents/kg in factory quotes for this week, bringing the base price to 430 cents/kg (153p/lb), plus the usual bonus of 6 cents/kg (2p/lb) for quality lambs.
There is some variation, with Kildare doing a shade better at a quote of 434 cents/kg plus bonus, and Moyvalley Meats in Co Kildare a shade weaker, offering an all-in price of 430 cents/kg.
A tighter supply situation has also resulted in steady or slightly improved mart prices this week. There was a slight improvement at Fermoy on Monday.
Butchers lambs sold for €90 to €120/head, or €40 over to €68 over. Factory lots and stores ranged from €75 to €100/head, equivalent to €32 over to €54 over.
There was a large sale of 1,250 head at Kilkenny Mart on Monday, where butchers paid €50 over to €68 over.. The stores ranged from €35 over to €44 over.
The trade in Britain has eased somewhat, reflecting the strengthening of sterling against the euro. The average price improved through last week to end at around 421c/kg, including VAT (150p/lb).
In France, quotes for Grade 1 Irish spring lamb delivered to Paris by the end of last week were making more than 430 cent /kg (153p/lb), VAT exclusive, as demand remained quite subdued due to summer holidays.
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