After a blistering start for the lamb market in 2018, prices and supply have eased in the past fortnight, however confidence is high that prices will remain steady with support from Australia’s export markets.
Meat and Livestock Australia’s market intelligence manager, Scott Tolmie, said strong international demand is expected to continue to support lamb and mutton prices.
“Consumer demand for lamb has been strong, with exports hitting record highs in 2017 at 251,000 tonnes (carcase weight) as well as maintaining domestic consumption levels despite increases in average retail prices.
“While lamb exports are expected to draw back slightly in 2018 to 244,000 tonnes shipped weight, this is still 4 per cent above the five-year average,” he said.
Philip Frame, Frame Rural Agencies, Inverell, said the continued hot, dry weather was currently affecting local saleyard prices.
“The season has gone a bit ordinary. Lambs were $12 to $15 cheaper last week. Some of that price reduction is due to the issues with Thomas Foods International as well,” he said.
The National Trade lamb indicator opened the year at 695c/kg carcasse weight, up 95c/kg year-on-year. As of Wednesday the NTLI had dropped 61c/kg to rest at 634/kg.
Mr Frame said there is a continuing shortage of heavy lambs.
“Only 2600 sheep and lambs are being offered at tomorrow’s sale (Tuesday), which is about half of the normal 5000.”
Brendan Gaynor, Riverina Livestock Agents, Wagga Wagga, said quality had eased in recent weeks with supply numbers.
“Numbers were steady starting the new year, before easing in the last week down to about 25,000 lambs. Prior we were seeing about 34,000 lambs per sale. We are seeing less export numbers particularly,” he said.
“We are still seeing between 600 and 630c/kg for heavy lambs and 640-650c/kg for trade lambs.”
Alex Collins, McKean McGregor, Bendigo, said the Victorian market had stabilized after high prices at the start of the year.
“We have had very strong markets for the beginning of the year, however yesterday’s sale (Monday) was cheaper generally by $7 or $8 dollars and $8 to $10 cheaper on the trade lambs.”
“We are seeing 640 c/kg to 650c/kg for the trade lambs and 600c/kg to 620c/kg for the heavier lambs.”
“We will see these levels for a while now. The season is tracking well and we are in a reasonable position. There will be no rushed selling, lots of producers bought store lambs pre-Christmas and will be confident,” he said.