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Supply slipping behind

Lamb prices ended the week lower in most states. It does seem that supply is driving the price moves, with last week’s price improvements on the back of a sharp drop in yardings, and early reports suggesting bigger numbers of young lambs finding their way to Victorian yards this week.

For the week ending the 10th of September, just 135,801 lambs were yarded in the east. This was a 31% drop on the week prior and 11% below the five-year average for this point in the season. NSW was a major driver, 51,082 head fewer lambs were yarded in the state than the week prior. The story was much the same for sheep yardings.

Slaughter did increase slightly last week, however combined sheep and lamb slaughter continued to track below last year’s level and the seasonal average. Sheep and lamb slaughter was 13% below the five-year average.

The Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) dropped 17ȼ on the week to sit at 928ȼ/kg cwt. The market was also weaker in the west with the Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator dropping 16ȼ to 739ȼ/kg cwt.

Restocker lambs in Victoria and South Australia enjoyed stronger demand, and stronger prices. However, restocker prices eased 32ȼ in NSW. Angus Brown looked at the lamb trading equation this week (view here) and despite being close to record highs, store lambs look like reasonable buying, providing finished prices don’t end up lower than 800ȼ.

Mutton prices continued to fall this week, with the National Mutton Indicator dropping another 7ȼ to 608ȼ/kg cwt.

The week ahead….

There is a way to go yet, in rising supply, before chains are full and prices come under significant pressure. It is the surge in Victorian lambs we see during September to November that is usually the catalyst for the ESTLI to reach its seasonal low so a big step down in price isn’t likely to come until the Victorian throughput starts to swell.

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Click on graph to expand

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Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo

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