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Irish lamb sector must take advantage of market opportunities

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IFA national sheep chairman John Lynskey has said the unique position Ireland holds in the EU export market over the next two months presents the lamb processing sector with a real opportunity to positively drive the lamb market and return viable prices and incomes back to sheep farmers.

As hogget numbers dry up over the next few weeks, John said our processors will be in the driving seat on new season lamb on the export market, as the UK production process is much later than in Ireland. Factories must also use this opportunity in a positive way and stay away from their usual exaggerated and damaging price cuts at this critical time of year. "The change in the sterling exchange rate this week from 86 to 84p/€ is significant and at the last reported price for hoggets in the UK of £4.17/kg, this equates to a price of €5.23/kg including VAT. It is clear at this price level there is little basis in the argument that UK lamb is undercutting Irish lamb in France,” he said.

According to John, hoggets are making from €5.10 to €5.20/kg up to 23kg. In relation to spring lambs, prices of €6.20/kg are on offer, while ewes are making €3.00/kg. John said the reality from the poor price return for early Easter lamb this year is that farmers can only consider this enterprise option in future years, if they have a fixed price contract with a processor, which returns a viable price. He said the poor farmer price contrasts dramatically with some of the high retail prices on display for spring lambs over the Easter. He said retail prices of €35/kg for lamb rack and €24/kg for lamb leg were totally inflated. He said some new season lamb legs were offered at €70 each at retail level, when farmers were being offered only €110 to €120 for the entire lamb.

Tags: lamb EU markets sheep farmers sterling hoggets