Thursday, 19 June 2014

Prospects good for English lamb trade

Britain’s sheep producers have been enjoying a welcome period of good weather conditions, which has resulted in a good crop of high quality lambs on the ground.

This follows a terrible lambing season for many last year, when exceptionally bad weather had a significant impact on the 2013 lamb crop.
Currently, the prices that producers are getting for their lambs remain high and are at record levels for the time of year. From this point onwards, supplies onto the market will increase. Due to the good grass growing conditions, lambs seem to be coming forward earlier than in previous years.

This is a positive for UK consumers, who look set to benefit from a very high quality product and good value for money. As long as demand remains high, prices should remain robust for sheep producers. However, as ever, the message for producers looking to get the best returns is to market their animals at the right time – when they hit the spec processors are looking for.
Despite some anticipated increase in lamb supplies in the UK, and lacklustre trade in some parts of Europe, the world sheep meat market is set to remain tight, at least until the end of this year. The UK is a key player in the global market as the third largest importer and exporter. It also holds a dominant position in the European trade, being the largest producer of sheep meat and largest exporter of product. 

In summary, the current strengthening of the pound against the Euro does give some cause for concern, but there are plenty of reasons why the lamb market should not come under the same pressure as the beef price has in recent months. In fact, the market dynamics suggest the long terms prospects remain positive for both sheep meat and beef producers in England.

Further good news for English lamb producers, and hopefully a much-needed boost for beef producers’ morale, came in the form of David Cameron’s meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang earlier this week, and the subsequent announcement that British beef and lamb could soon be heading to China.

The outcome of the Prime Minister’s meeting with his Chinese counterpart will not result in an overnight change to the industry, but it does indicate a major step forwards in negotiating market access to China for beef and lamb. This development follows years of work by EBLEX in conjunction with a number of other organisations to gain access to this potentially lucrative market.
The focus is not only on foreign markets though. It is vitally important to promote the sheep-meat-buying habit at home also. To encourage consumers to enjoy home-produced lamb, EBLEX has committed to a range of marketing activity, including a TV advertising campaign that will go out in September and the cook with keema initiative which encourages mums to experiment with lamb.

This year’s good conditions mean plenty of quality lamb will be available for dinner tables up and down the country in the coming months and we’re doing our best to make sure consumers take the opportunity to enjoy it.