Lamb and mutton forward price expectations were dampened this week with reports of continued end-market resistance and kill space reductions.
Though trade and heavy lamb prices held relatively firm in Australian saleyards last Friday with continued domestic demand, export processors are reducing weekly kill requirements due to supply availability for sheep and lamb price levels, tempering market price expectations leading into winter.
Domestic and export lamb and sheep processors maintain there has been significant world market resistance to high volumes of product marketed at current spot price levels – with lamb well above 500c/kg and mutton approaching 400c/kg.
Coles releases 620-630c/kg June-July contract
Coles last week released an 18-25kg cwt contract for Gundagai (NSW) only in June of 620c/kg, with 630c/kg available for July at Gundagai and Brooklyn (Vic), with the usual upside conditions, while export processor forward contracts of 560-580c/kg into August are now full.
JBS to cut 20,000 sheep and lambs from kill
Industry price expectations of higher prices leading into winter were further tempered with reports that JBS Australia this week will take 20,000 sheep and lambs out of its weekly requirements for its Brooklyn (Vic) and Bordertown (SA) plants due to “market conditions”, and has closed any forward contracts. Also big Dubbo-based sheep processor Fletcher International is closing down for two weeks for maintenance and due to lack of supplies.
ALC cuts weekly lamb kill by 20pc
Export lamb processors Australian Lamb Company in Victoria and Southern Meats in NSW are also reportedly reducing their lamb kills as of this week. Other exporters were also rumoured to be cutting their weekly kills.
ALC still has limited space available for 18-32kg cwt lambs in June at 550c/kg and in July at 560c/kg, with its current spot price at 540c/kg. But ALC livestock manager Ben Verrall said demand for lamb was tight with returns per carcase dropping $15-$18 into China since late January and the company was reducing its weekly lamb kill by 20 percent.
TFI’s Paul Leonard says supplies are tightening
Thomas Food International’s national sheep and lamb livestock manager Paul Leonard said the company’s forward contracts of 560c/kg for 18-34kg lambs delivered into Tamworth, NSW, in May, 570c/kg in June and 580c/kg in July filled within a week of being released. The contracts at Murray Bridge and Lobethal, SA, of 560c/kg in May and 570 in June, and Lobethal is 570c/kg in July are also full. TFI’s Murray Bridge works will be closed for most of July. Only limited kill space is still available for lambs despite the filling of the contracts.
Mr Leonard said lamb availability outside the contracted supplies are starting to shorten up.
“I think you are starting to see that this week supply is starting to tighten.”
He was happy with the take up of the forward contracts and contracted producers would appreciate seeing their export-weight lambs killed in May at prices 20c/kg above current grid spot prices of mostly around 540c/kg.
Online market for breeders strengthens by $10
AuctionsPlus market operations officer Anna Adams said Merino hoggets last week made from $113-$142 to average $125, down $3 on last week.
“The market strengthened by $10 for joined and scanned-in-lamb proven breeders to average $107.
“Values ranged from $75-$136,” she said.
Ms Adams said the top line was a small mob of 63kg lwt Pastora-blood Merino ewes from Dubbo with a 3.5cm skin. These were scanned-in-lamb to Border Leicester rams.
Ms Adams said a large offering of Merino wether lambs made $52-$95.50 last week. Woolly wethers attracted keen interest, with some Willandra-blood hoggets with a 5cm skin from Hay NSW topping this category.
Ms Adams said a feature line of Samm/Merino ewes from Bordertown SA drew bidding activity.
“The first cross lambs made $120, while joined hoggets made $154.
“The 3 and 4-year-old ewes joined and scanned-in-lamb to Samm and Merino rams made $153 and $155.”
Demand for scanned-in-lamb shedding breed ewes was strong last week, she said. These made $109-$150.50 and averaged $131.
The highlights were two large mobs offered from Longreach Qld and Barraba NSW. The 58kg lwt 4 and 5-year-old White Dorper ewes from Longreach, scanned-in-lamb to Australian White rams, made $142. A smaller line of 55kg lwt Australian White hoggets from Barraba, also scanned-in-lamb to Australian White rams, topped the sale at $150.50.
Ms Adams said a larger offering of store lambs this week met with increased interest from bidders. The 35-38kg lwt lambs made from $73.50-$110, with an average price of $91.50 or 632c/kg dressed. The heaviest store lambs offered ranged from 40kg to 43kg and made from $112.50-$119, with an average of $115 or 627c/kg cwt.
Griffith lambs dearer
In NSW at the Griffith saleyards on Friday, the agent yarded 8500 lambs, 2700 fewer than last week, and 1650 sheep, 1050 more.
The NLRS said lamb quality was very mixed and reduced slightly from the previous sales. There were still good numbers of well-finished lambs available along with an increased percentage of plainer lambs. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were well supplied. Most of the usual buyers competed in a dearer market.
Light lambs lifted $2, selling from $94-$106. Trade weights were $5 better, with prices ranging from $106-$136. Heavy and extra heavyweight lambs were $4-$5 dearer. Heavy lambs sold from $137-$150. Carcase prices averaged from 545-590c/kg cwt. A handy offering of Merino and Dohne lambs sold from $109-$168.
Mutton quality was very mixed. Prices eased, with Merino ewes selling from $79-$113. Heavy crossbred ewes sold from $105-$116. Dorper ewes received from $75-$109.
Cowra’s lambs firm with reduced competition
At the Cowra saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 2700 lambs, 3830 fewer than last week, and 700 sheep, 200 less.
The NLRS said quality was not to the standard of previous weeks, with a reduction in heavy and extra heavy lambs. Trade and store lambs were in reasonable numbers and not all buyers operated. Competition was generally weaker, except for the heavy trade lambs which sold firm on last week.
Light lambs to the processors held firm and averaged $97.60, while store lambs averaged $78. Medium and heavy trade weight lambs were firm and averaged from 554-585c/kg cwt. The heavy trade weights sold from $125-$145. Heavy weight lambs were $3-$6 cheaper and averaged from 530-561c/kg cwt. A couple of pens of extra heavy lambs sold from $150-$154.50.
Mutton numbers fell for a limited yarding and quality was varied. Medium Merino ewes were $2 cheaper and averaged $79.80. Heavy first cross ewes were $7 cheaper and averaged $109.90 or 340c/kg cwt.
Shepparton competition limited
In Victoria at the Shepparton saleyards on Friday, the agents yarded 1152 lambs, 378 fewer than last week and 121 sheep, 337 less.
The NLRS said it was a mixed quality autumn yarding, with only odd pens of heavy or reasonable quality trade lambs. Only a few buyers operated, although the market for medium and light weight trade lambs was boosted by an extra southern processing order. Trade lambs were $3-$8 dearer, but based on limited quotes. The market reached a top of $166 for a small pen of export lambs. A few pens of heavy trade lambs sold from $127-$136, while the general run of medium domestic lambs (20-22kg cwt) sold from $109-$124. An estimated range of 540-580c/kg cwt covered most sales. The line-up of export lambs was limited to just a few pens which sold from $145 to a top of $166.
There was only a token offering of sheep, with a handful of heavy crossbred ewes selling to $117.
Sources: MLA, NLRS, AuctionsPlus.