Shorn lamb in long paddock

From producers to exporters, the supply chain is in the thick of the Spring seasonal supply increase. Processors are working at full throttle, as total slaughter eclipsed 534,000 head last week and ramped up again this week, harvest is well underway in key cropping zones, Middle East lamb imports had their best month in October since 2018 and restocker buyers were active in NSW and SA.

In a welcome sign and an indication of a small resurgence in restocker demand, restocker spec lamb yardings rose 25% this week to 66K nationally but NSW and SA both experienced double-digit improvements in pricing. NSW restocker lambs jumped 28¢ to 347¢/kg cwt and SA restocker lambs reached 351¢/kg cwt (an 11¢ improvement week on week). Victorian restockers however lost 16¢ to 354¢/kg cwt as yardings this week were almost double the number last fortnight.

Light Lamb’s recent improvements hit a supply roadblock this week. Per MLA, Light lamb yardings rose 20% week on week, and the additional 13K head through the yards put downward pressure on the National light lamb indicator which lost 9¢ to 369¢/kg cwt. The additional numbers came out of Victoria and South Australia, which were resilient to the increase in supply on the price front. Victorian light lambs lost just 2¢ for the week, ending at 400¢/kg cwt and South Australia improved 13¢ to 406¢/kg cwt.

The mutton treadmill continued this week, yardings remain elevated and pricing has crept upwards but is essentially a sideways movement in the context of this season’s price decline. WA mutton improved 5¢ to 71¢/kg cwt, NSW mutton 12¢ to 124¢/kg cwt and Victorian Mutton lost 1¢ to 96¢/kg cwt. The National mutton indicator improved 7¢ to 110¢/kg cwt a 10% improvement week on week but still sits 78% lower year on year.  

Next week

The balance of supply and demand fundamentals at this time of year have been somewhat assisted by the re-emergence of Middle East imports.

Rain in certain areas also provides another path for lighter lambs as restockers look to early 2024’s potential opportunities.

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Data sources: MLA, BOM, Mecardo

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