Processors pinched but no plummeting prices

sheep image

Looking at prices across the lamb & sheep market, you could almost be forgiven for thinking that it was all smooth sailing. In reality, we know that processing capacity is limited, and supply chains are stretched, but the seasonal conditions will continue to support market fundamentals.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) ended last year at 854¢ and has closed this week slightly down at 849¢/kg cwt. In the West, the trade lamb Indicator at 819¢, which is 6% stronger than where it left off in 2021.

While trade weight lambs still received reasonable interest, it was the heavy lambs that felt the brunt of the processing limitations. The National Heavy Lamb Indicator ended this week 27¢ or 3% lower than the previous report in December.

Restocker lambs continued to see support in the opening sales, unsurprisingly given the extent of the rainfall in the east in recent weeks. The National Restocker Lamb Indicator gained 9¢ or 1% from last year, to close the week at 919¢/kg cwt.

Mutton made solid gains over the holidays, correcting the loss in the last week of sale in 2021. The National Mutton Indicator closed this week at 620¢/kg cwt, which was a 22¢ lift on the prior result in mid-December.

We took a detailed look at the first week lamb and sheep slaughter figures earlier in the week (read here). Compared to the same time 12 months ago, east coast lamb & sheep slaughter was 34% lower. Taking into account the public holiday, we would normally expect a 20% decline so it’s clear that Covid amongst workers is impacting processing capacity.

The week ahead….

On the positive side of things, we know demand is out there, particularly if MLA’s Australia & Westralia Day lamb campaign works its magic. How long the disruption to slaughter may last is anyone’s guess at this stage, and who misses out on the end product is another question. This is likely to limit price upside, but with underlying fundamentals strong the medium-term outlook is good.

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!
Print This Post

Click on graph to expand

Click on graph to expand

Click on graph to expand

Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo.

Make decisions with confidence- ask about our board packs, bespoke forecasting and risk management services

Have any questions or comments?

We love to hear from you!

Winter lamb cool down

Lower throughput for lambs indicates the approach of winter. Whilst lamb indicators were lower, mutton markets found some favour this week, improving week on week

Read More »

Want market insights delivered straight to your inbox?

Sign up to the mailing list to get regular updates to new analysis and market outlooks

Independent analysis and outlook for wool, livestock and grain markets delivered to you as it’s published

Commodity conversations podcast cover image, a illustration of a sheep standing on a cow's back with grain either side
Listen to the podcast

Join the Mecardo team for the Commodity Conversations podcast, where we provide short weekly market recaps and longer conversations with guests to discuss the drivers and trends in livestock, grain and fibre markets.

Photo of a farmer surrounded by Merino sheep in dusty yards
Research: Analysis of the Australian sheep flock

In this report for LiveCorp and MLA, we analysed the historical trends in the demographics of the Australian sheep flock, examining domestic factors that influence farm-level enterprise decision making. 

Image of harvested grain pouring into a chaser bin

We don’t just bring you the most up to date market insights. Find out more about Mecardo’s services including risk management advisory, modelling, benchmarking, research & consultancy.