IFA Sheep Chairman Sean Dennehy said the market conditions that underpinned the sheep trade for the past two years look set to continue for 2022.
“Demand for sheep meat in China will continue to drive the global trade as New Zealand and Australia focus on supplying this lucrative market. Consumption of sheep meat in China has increased by 9% since 2018,” he said.
This change in supply pattern has resulted in NZ filling only 46% of their EU quota, which is the lowest in decades. This is increasing the opportunity for Irish exports.
Sean Dennehy said the trade is predicted to hold steady over the coming months with supply and demand balanced, Easter and Ramadan in early April will be key drivers of the trade.
Ongoing issues with UK access to the EU market will create openings for Irish lamb.
Turning to current prices, Sean Dennehy said despite lower quotes, lambs are making €6.90/kg to €7.10/kg.
The IFA Sheep Chairman said the anticipated relaxation to COVID-19 controls for the food service sector over the coming weeks will increase demand for lamb in the domestic and export markets, and with COVID-19 cases falling, workforce issues will ease.
“Supplies will remain tight and farmers should move lambs as they become fit to maximise returns and maintain bargaining power with factories. Farmers feeding lambs ad lib should watch weights to avoid penalties,” he said.
Sean Dennehy said the current approach by factories on price and weight penalties is short sighted and unnecessary.