Actions across saleyards suggest that key processors have not wound back into full production with lamb and sheep kills as a result of supply, demand and profitability issues.
Information implies JBS Swift and Thomas Food International, for example, have kept production at lower levels, with processors looking closely at supplies at saleyards, cost of production and the high Australian dollar.
It was evident at Wagga prime lamb and sheep sale last Thursday, with bidding for heavy lambs patchy. Lambs weighing above 30kg carcass weight attracted the strongest bidding, while lambs less than 30kg found competition faded. What was more telling was the fact one major meat company did not compete at all in the sheep market, preferring to leave after the second agent began. Even with the absence of a few processors, sheep prices lifted. Fletchers International Dubbo mopped up most weights and grades for the following day’s kill. Most companies struggled to match the rate, calling out prices $10 under the odds.
The one bright spot last week was domestic lambs, with a major processor lamenting there was not enough new season lambs in the system, forcing prices to move upward. Niche new season lambs at Wagga suiting supermarkets lifted $6, regularly selling for 635-650¢.
Tight supplies are impacted on lamb markets with most types starting this week dearer. Lambs to the processors gained $10-$25 in space of the weekend break. Numbers were down at Bendigo on Monday, with fewer than 6000 lambs on offer with 1960 sheep. Quality new season lambs were rewarded with price gains of $8-$25.
New season lambs 20-24kg made from $125-$173.
National Livestock Reporting Service said buyers were working on skin values of $9-$10 ahead for these lambs, which gave them a carcass weight price of 650¢-680¢/kg. A few pens of heavy new season lambs hovered around $171 to average 648¢/kg cwt. Wet weather has caused mutton supplies to tighten which pushed rates $9-$14 higher as buyers struggle to make loads. Heavy sheep sold at $108-$150, while trade weights made from $83-$126.
Falling numbers have put some fire into NSW markets. Lamb supplies fell again at Corowa, and agents could only muster 5993 lambs and 2366 sheep. Limited supplies caused a bounce of $13 for the best supermarket lambs. Heavy lambs lifted $10 to average 603¢/kg.
At Ballarat, lamb numbers dwindled to just 3687 and 2002 sheep. Prices were generally $6 dearer for trade lambs, while heavy lambs were unchanged to a few dollars dearer to average 623¢/kg cwt.