UK: Lamb price fluctuation fears

Lamb price fluctuation fears

Lamb price fluctuation fears - Credit:

Farmers’ leaders have expressed frustration at lamb price volatility.

National Farmers’ Union livestock board chair Charles Sercombe warned the instability is not good for consumers. A rise in the number of lambs coming to market triggered a sharp 48p/kg drop in prices which led to farmers holding more lambs back, with throughputs then down over a third last week.

Mr Sercombe, a sheep farmer in Leicestershire, said he’d been contacted by many NFU livestock members expressing their concerns.

“As a sheep farmer myself, I share the complete frustration that our members have in trying to do business in this volatile market and I know only too well of the impact a 25 per cent* drop in the price of lamb over the course of a week has on a farming business,” said Mr Sercombe. “Sheep farmers, particularly those in the uplands, have had a tough year and this is the last thing we want to see. It is unsustainable for the prices to fluctuate like this and it’s bound to have an impact on farmer confidence going forward as well as the weight and the consistency of quality of lambs.

“The situation benefits no one. I would encourage farmers to work with their auctioneer or fieldsman to plan their marketing season to help them to better deal with this volatile market and produce a better product for the consumer.

“It is also essential that we start to see consistent demand with more British lamb on the shelves. We continue to urge retailers to demonstrate their commitment to British lamb, but the latest Beef and Lamb Watch figures from EBLEX show that the proportion of British packs of lamb on supermarket shelves has actually fallen compared to this time last year.

“We are well into the British season now and it is unacceptable to see any store that talks about stocking the best in season to be sourcing high levels of imported lamb. We frequently hear fine words from retail leaders but in many of the figures we have seen, there appears to be a serious disconnection between senior executives, buyers and packers.”

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Next week the NFU will also be part of an industry-wide delegation to New Zealand, organised by EBLEX, aimed at sharing knowledge and getting a better understanding of the difficulties faced by farmers in each country.

Lamb liveweight prices (GB NSL SQQ) fell from 230.1p/kg on Thursday July 11 to 172.1p/kg by Thursday July 18.