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W11: Weekly Lamb & Mutton Update

Updated Mar 20, 2023
Tridge's global market analysts and country representatives take a deep dive into what happened during W11 in the global lamb and mutton market. In summary, European sheep meat production decreased by 0.9% in 2022. Australian producers are expected to sell a total of 13.44M lambs in the first half of 2023, 3.27M more compared to the October 2022 estimate. New Zealand sheep farm profits could drop 31% compared to the 2021/22 season. In Ireland, a total of 50.6K sheep were processed in W11, up by 2.3K head compared to the previous week. Uruguayan sheep exports to China experienced a retraction in W11 due to a discrepancy between the industry offer price and what importers are willing to pay. Lastly, Moroccan authorities prepared for the numbering of sheep and goats for Eid Al-Adha noting that 7M heads will be numbered during this month.


Decrease in Production of All Types of Meat in 2022 (Mar 14)

According to preliminary data from the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), the total production of beef, pigs, poultry, and sheep decreased by 1.7M MT compared to 2021, by 4.0% to 41.25M MT. In France, the leading producer of mutton, the volume fell by 4.4% to 1.36M MT, and in Germany by 8.4% to 982K MT. However, in relative terms, sheep meat production in 2022 decreased the least, namely by 0.9% to 422K MT.


Weather, the Key Impact on Summer Lamb Sales in Australia (Mar 13)

The latest survey data from sheep and wool producers shows that floods and weather hampered lamb selling in the final months of 2022, but producers are planning to make up this shortfall in the first half of 2023. The latest pulse survey data showed that the majority of producers made some change to their planned 2022 sales volumes: 51% sold fewer lambs than expected in this period, 13% reported they sold more lambs than expected and the remaining 36% sold the number of lambs they planned. The holding back of lambs has now led to 55% of surveyed producers expecting to sell more lambs in the first half of 2023 across most states and all farm sizes. This translates to an increase of 3.27M lambs to be sold on the estimates from the October survey, a total of 13.44M, in the first half of 2023.

A Digitized Greenhouse Gas Calculator Has Been Launched for Australian Producers (Mar 14)

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) on Mar 14 launched an online, web-based greenhouse gas (GHG) calculator based on the Sheep and Beef Greenhouse Accounting Framework (SB-GAF) tool for Australian sheep and beef producers. The digitized version of the SB-GAF tool is based on the freely available excel version of the tool available on the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre (PICCC) website to ensure consistency across the sector. According to MLA’s Managing Director, Jason Strong, completing a carbon account is an important first step for producers to increase their carbon awareness and determine what their net GHG emissions position is, so they can identify strategies to reduce these emissions and improve carbon storage on-farm.

Maximizing Productivity in Dorper Flocks in Australia (Mar 16)

In an effort to address declining lambing percentages in local flocks, a group of Dorper producers on SA’s far-west coast participated in a Meat & Livestock Australia-funded Producer Demonstration Site (PDS). Throughout the three-year project, the group trialed several management practices to boost the reproductive performance of their flocks. Examples of the practices trialed by participating producers include condition scoring of ewes at key times in the reproductive cycle (including pre-joining to ensure ewes have had sufficient time to recover from previous lambing), aiming for a score of 4 or above pre-joining assessment of rams scanning for lamb numbers (singles or multiples) differential management strategies of ewes based on pregnancy status assessing udder soundness and monitoring udder health weaning lambs at optimum time feed budgeting. 

New Zealand

Last Chance to Submit on Beef Genetics Program in New Zealand (Mar 14)

Farmers are being urged to have their say on a New Zealand Meat Board proposal to continue funding the Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) genetics program. Sheep and beef farmers should have received a joint NZMB-Beef + Lamb New Zealand mail-out with information on the NZMB online annual meeting on March 24 including the board’s proposal to keep supporting the initiative. “Informing New Zealand Beef is working to boost the sector’s profits by USD 460M over the next 25 years by giving farmers the right genetic tools to help produce great tasting beef and drive efficiency on farm,” NZMB chair Andrew Morrison said. “The board has funded this program, continuing to provide up to USD 1.4M funding from investment income, as part of our industry-good funding through the USD 77.8M of financial reserves that we manage on behalf of New Zealand farmers. We’re keen to hear farmers’ views on whether we should continue to support it.” 

Beyond the Floods, Commodity Markets in New Zealand (Mar 15)

Export prices have been picking up, but lamb is not out of the woods yet. The South Island lamb price stabilized through February at around USD 4.12/kg cwt (NZ$ 6.60). There is an anticipation that there could be some further downside for the lamb schedule through March as more lambs come forward for processing. Farmers have been holding lambs longer to capitalize on good feed levels by adding a few extra kilograms to compensate for softer schedule prices. However, the combined effect of lambs being held longer, plus Southland and Otago being very dry, is that there is a large number of store lambs and prime lambs hitting the market in March. Processing capacity is not currently an issue in the South Island, but with more lambs likely to come forward in March, a few more cents could come out of schedules.

New Zealand Farm Profits Could Drop By Over 30% (Mar 15)

High inflation and reduced livestock prices could result in profits on beef and sheep farms in New Zealand falling by almost a third, according to a new report. The Beef and Lamb New Zealand Mid-Season Update 2022/23 indicates that farm profit before tax is estimated at USD 91.30K (NZ$146.3K). This is a 31% decrease from 2021/22 and below the average for the past five years. Beef and Lamb New Zealand chief economist, Andrew Burtt said that inflationary pressure is causing on-farm costs to increase sharply, “eroding the benefit of what are still historically pretty good farmgate returns”. He said that recovery is expected in global demand for sheep meat and beef, while supply levels remain tight. This follows a stark drop in demand for sheep meat at the start of the season before China relaxed its zero Covid-19 policy. 

Project Aims to Determine Heat Stress Limit for Sheep in New Zealand (Mar 16)

The new tool will be used to help farmers proactively manage heat stress risks for their animals. AgResearch scientists are developing a tool to help sheep farmers better predict when their animals are likely to be heat-stressed. The tool, called a heat load index, will be used to help farmers proactively manage this risk for their animals. The project, funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, has scientists monitoring a small mob of Romney ewes in a paddock at its Ruakura site, where the data collected will be used to formulate the index. The research was outlined at a field day at Ruakura organized by the MPI. AgResearch scientist Karin Schutz said they are monitoring the ewes’ movements and time spent in the shade and grazing pasture. The sheep’s respiration rates are also recorded and counted. 

United Kingdom

Sheep Sector Calls for Urgent Clarity Over New NI Windsor Framework (Mar 13)

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has called for 'urgent clarity' over the potential for the easing of trade in breeding sheep between Northern Ireland and Britain. The body has also called for more information on the future of access to medicines following the announcement of the Northern Ireland Framework last month. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced the new deal which aims to fix post-Brexit problems in Northern Ireland. This included the development of a ‘green lane’ for goods destined for the nation and a ‘red lane’ for those destined for the European Union. However, since its agreement, the sheep sector has been working to identify any detail that would impact the two pressing issues for the livestock industry; movements and medicines. Northern Irish farmers rely heavily on sourcing breeding stock from the British mainland.

Great Britain Lamb Prices Rumble On, Culls Strengthening (Mar 17)

GB lamb prices have largely moved sideways since the beginning of the year, weaving close to five-year average levels, but remaining pressured versus a year ago. For some headline figures, the live weight OSL SQQ averaged 234.25p/kg in February, down 29p YoY, while the equivalent deadweight measure stood 74p lower at 506p/kg. More lambs are estimated to have come forwards for slaughter during the first ten weeks of the year than in the same period in 2022. This aligns with the expectation of a larger carry-over of hogget, following slower kills in the second half of last year. An estimated 2.2M lambs have been processed in GB during the first ten weeks of 2023, 6% (125K head) more than the same period a year ago. Domestic retail demand remains sluggish. The most recent Kantar data (12 weeks to 19 February) shows the total quantity of lamb sold via retail was 6% lower than a year ago.


No Export Benchmark Price Tracker for Lamb, Bord Bia (Mar 15)

Bord Bia said an export benchmark price-tracker for lamb, similar to the beef tracker, cannot be built with any “level of robustness” at this time. Although the Irish food board acknowledges that a price tracker would add “transparency” to the marketplace it has identified a number of factors, which it said would make developing an “accurate” price tracker “very difficult or impossible”. According to Bord Bia, there is currently no mandatory sheep classification and price reporting in the EU or the UK. “Lamb prices are not available by individual grade or category, but, instead, average prices are reported on a voluntary basis by individual member states for heavy and light lambs. “There is a lack of detailed data by grade combined with variations in how prices are calculated which makes it difficult, impossible to make like-for-like comparisons,” Bord Bia said.

Weekly Sheep Supply Edges up by Over 2K Head in Ireland (Mar 18)

For W11, a total of 50.6K sheep were processed, which is an increase of over 2.3K head on the previous week’s kill. 46.05K hogget was processed, which is up by over 2.49K head on the week prior, while a further 4.34K ewes and rams were slaughtered, which is back 334 head on the previous week. Sheep kill to date, taking a look at this year’s throughput figures to date, 517.88K sheep have been processed so far. Of that figure, 458.35K have been hogget/lambs, with the rest made up of ewes and rams (59.29K), spring lambs (207), and a small number of light lambs (36 head).


Slow Market for Uruguayan Lamb in the Chinese Market During W11 (Mar 17)

In W11, Uruguayan sheep exports to China had a retraction. The difference between what the industry query and what importers are willing to pay was considerable. Prices for lamb carcasses decreased below USD 5K/MT CFR. A few Uruguayan plants offered at USD 4.8-4.9K/MT but did not sell. Deals stood at USD 4.7K/MT CFR. The price of lamb carcasses in the Chinese domestic market stood at USD 4.7K/MT.


Lamb Will Be More Expensive This Easter in Bulgaria (Mar 13)

As Easter approaches, the question of what price we will eat the traditional lamb is back on the agenda this time. Last year, farmers sold a kilogram of lamb for USD 5.45 (BGN 10). "Lambs will cost USD 6.54 (BGN 12) this year due to the increase in the price of fodder, hay, and all consumption. Last year, we gave them for USD 5.45 (BGN 10)," said farmer Ivaylo Metodiev. "Feed, lamb mixes are USD 0.71/kg (BGN 1.30). Alfalfa hay is USD 5.45/bale (BGN 10), and for this reason, the price of the product is increasing," Metodiev explained to Bulgaria. According to him, there is demand at the moment because people like lamb to be real and homemade. Requests for the holidays have already started on March 1.


Mutton Consumption in Russia May Grow (Mar 13)

As sheep breeding develops, this meat will become more accessible. Lamb can potentially take fourth place in the structure of meat consumption in Russia, competing with turkey. This opinion was expressed to Agroinvestor by Konstantin Korneev, Executive Director of Rincon Management. “Of course, the cost of mutton will be somewhat higher than turkey, its retail prices range from USD 7.77/kg to USD 19.43/kg (600 to 1.5K rubles), depending on the cut, but the more it is produced, the more affordable it will become. Of course, lamb is niche meat, sales of which are limited by the purchasing power of the population, but the segment has room to grow,” he is sure. At the same time, Korneev emphasizes that this is not about crowding out lamb turkey, but about an increase in the consumption of the latter. According to the National Union of Sheep Breeders, the average consumption of mutton in Russia is 1.4 kg per person per year, while the rate recommended by the Ministry of Health is twice as high.

Livestock Breeders of Russia’s Moscow Region Were Reminded of the New Rules for Keeping Sheep and Goats (Mar 17)

Residents of the Moscow Region were reminded that since March, special requirements for large sheep and goat breeding enterprises for the maintenance of small ruminants came into force, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The new veterinary rules were previously approved by the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia. Their validity is provided until March 1, 2029. “The new veterinary regulations establish different requirements for the personal subsidiary or farm enterprises and large enterprises. The document regulates the norms for keeping small cattle: feeding, walking, prevention and diagnosis of diseases, and also includes new requirements for premises,” said Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Moscow Region Vladislav Murashov. According to the new requirements for large livestock enterprises, it is necessary to divide into zones the territory where more than 1K heads of small cattle are kept.

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Is Interested in Ukrainian Beef and Lamb (Mar 16)

The State Production and Consumer Service continue to cooperate with the competent authorities of other countries with the aim of diversifying sales markets for domestic producers, opening up new opportunities for Ukrainian exporters. Thus, on March 13, experts of the State Production and Consumer Service and the Saudi Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) discussed a number of topical issues in an online meeting regarding the elimination of technical obstacles to expanding the export of food products, namely beef, and lamb, from Ukraine to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Regarding the lamb market for export from Ukraine to KSA will soon be opened, and the procedure for agreeing on a bilateral form of the veterinary certificate is underway between the countries.


Kuwait Says Live Sheep Trade Vital as Farmers Turn on Albanese (Mar 17)

Kuwait spelled out the importance of the live sheep trade to its people after a diplomatic gaffe by senior Australian bureaucrats tasked with briefing affected countries on the Albanese government’s plan to ban exports. The Middle Eastern nation made clear plans to outlaw live sheep shipments and end a 60-year trade between the two countries, which will put a big strain on relations as well as food security. Farmers across Australia are being urged to consider protests to save the trade amid fears the ban on sheep is just the thin end of the wedge, with Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association president David Connolly blasting Agriculture Minister Murray Watt at a conference in Darwin on Mar 17. Kuwait’s minister for commerce and industry, Mazin Saad Al-Nahedh, wrote to Senator Watt in W11 about the impact of a ban on food security and the religious and cultural ramifications for his country.


Start Numbering the Sheep’s Heads in Preparation for Eid Al-Adha (Mar 18)

The Minister of Agriculture, Marine Fishing, Rural Development, Water and Forests, Mohamed Siddiqui, stated that "the competent authorities will begin the process of numbering sheep and goats by drawing this season." The minister added, in his answer to a written question in the Council of Advisors, that “7M heads will be numbered during this month,” noting that “the process of numbering sheep heads in preparation for the upcoming Eid al-Adha will be carried out with the participation of professional organizations.” And the same source added that “in preparation for Eid al-Adha, the registration of sheep and goat fattening units at the level of the regional veterinary services affiliated to the regional directorates of the office has begun, starting from last January 2.” The minister added, "The veterinary services of the office and interprofessional organizations will also register the cashews in the weekly markets," stressing that "the office has put a blue number at everyone's disposal, with the aim of inquiring."


Start Insemination and Embryo Transfer With UK Straws (Mar 16)

After the arrival in Paraguay of 400 doses of six different Texel rams from the United Kingdom, producers begin the second stage of the genetic improvement process that includes the insemination and transfer of their own embryos for the subsequent certification of pregnancy of the females. This is the second batch of straws imported from England, Dr. Johanna Bottrell, the new president of the Paraguayan Association of Texel Breeders (APCT) and owner of Cabaña Las Magnolias, said. The Genetic Improvement Plan promoted by the APCT in Paraguay presents a great advance for the more than 15 herds in the country that invested in importing texel genetics from the United Kingdom. 

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