sheep in a field at sunset

NASA may have decided to push back its moon mission this week, but this lamb market certainly has a rocket under it. Most indicators in the east have opened 2024 higher than the same time last year, driven by renewed processor demand, tighter supply, and plenty of rain.

Since the middle of December, lamb prices and demand increased by $1 kilo from processors and now the opening sales of January have seen another $1/kilo increase. This week the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator finished at 782¢, which is 25% higher than the average price of sales in the week ending 22nd December. The ESTLI is up 3% YoY. The National Heavy Lamb Indicator also moved onwards and upwards, gaining 18% since December 22nd to settle at 785¢/kg cwt.

 

Finished lamb prices have also improved in WA but not to the same extent. The Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator is currently sitting at 561¢/kg cwt, a 20% lift on the last full sale week of December 2023.


Rainfall in the eastern Australian sheep regions has persisted into early January and continued to rejuvenate the restocker market. The National Restocker Lamb Indicator this week ended at 681¢/kg cwt, up a significant 43% on the last full sale week in December.

 

While mutton prices have also increased this week, they haven’t seen the same rally as lamb. The National Mutton Indicator ended this week at  261¢/kg cwt x which is still 30% lower than the same time last year.

 

Tighter supply has also played its part in the uplift in demand. The large selloff in December and the early exit of light lambs to slaughter (read more) has displaced finished lamb supply. While this season is presenting an overall larger lamb crop compared to last year, the market response suggests that processors are concerned about whether the finished lamb supply is there to meet demand.  

Next week

Much to the delight of the consumer, domestically, lamb on the supermarket shelves seems to be the cheapest it’s been in a long while. With the MLA Australia Day lamb campaign up and running, we’re expecting the boost in demand to flow through to a competitive market in the weeks ahead.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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