IFA Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said demand for lamb is expected to improve over the coming weeks.
Buying for the Eid Festival in mid-July is starting in earnest. Following this, breeding sales and store buying will increase competition for lambs.
Sean Dennehy said supplies of suitable lambs are limited with average carcase weights to-date this year .5kg lighter than last year.
“Farmers should sell hard while moving lambs at optimum weights to maximise returns and take back control from factories. €6.40/kg is paid in most factories today, with some deals to €6.50/kg despite ongoing attempts by factories to reduce prices further,” he said.
Sean Dennehy said factories must stand firm in the market place. Irish lamb as it stands is competitively priced to compete in the market and there is no need or justification for further cuts.
He said lamb supplies on a weekly basis remain below last year’s levels. Orderly marketing will deprive factories of the opportunity for further price cuts.
Bord Bia predict supplies of imported lamb into the EU market will remain low for the year as China continues to dominate sheep imports, creating favourable conditions for Irish lamb in the EU.
UK supplies are predicted to be below last year’s levels. With additional costs associated with accessing the EU market, this further enhances market conditions for Irish lamb.
The IFA Sheep Committee will be meeting with factories in the coming days to set out farmers’ frustration at the recent attempts to severely undermine the trade and the need to maximise returns to sheep farmers from a favourable market environment.
He said factories must take a stand. “Farmers cannot continue to be expected to absorb higher production costs on the one hand while allowing the large supermarkets determine the price we receive,” he said.
“We have seen over the last 12 months how consumers are willing to pay higher prices for high-quality lamb supplies from trusted producers. Sales of lamb grew both in terms of volume and value in supermarket sales,” he concluded.