Global lamb shortage helps UK prices rise £14 a head in 2020

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Rocketing prime lamb prices suggest that the amount retailers are able to import is sharply down on last year, amid a global shortage of the meat.

Some processors began offering deadweight prices in excess of 500p/kg this week, while the AHDB said the UK average SQQ liveweight price reached 240.09p/kg on Tuesday (11 January) – a rise of almost 6p/kg on the week.

With the Chinese rapidly accelerating the pace of red meat imports to replace pork from their African swine fever-stricken herd, there will be less meat available to come to Europe from New Zealand this spring, said AHDB analyst Rebecca Oborne.

Some forward-bought New Zealand lamb will be on UK shelves this Easter, but it remains to be seen if product traded on the spot market comes here or goes to other destinations, she said.

“New Zealand farmgate prices are continuing at a high level.

“Continued strong demand and prices in China, and global supply tightening again all point towards one conclusion – a reduction in New Zealand lamb coming to the UK.”

Exports from the southern hemisphere have been compounded by last month’s wildfires in Australia, which followed an extended drought, both of which have had an effect on production volumes.

The country is not a major exporter to the UK, but is a key supplier to China, Asia and the US – markets which New Zealand will be looking to supply, instead of shipping as much volume to Europe, she said.

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