Meat & Livestock News

Lamb Prices Show Positive Movement Amidst Shifting Processor Demand

A herd of sheep grazing on a grass-covered field captured on a sunny day

27 October 2023

Recent data indicates a positive shift in lamb prices in Australia, with several lamb indicators experiencing an upward trend over the past month. This change comes amidst a unique market environment and varying processor demand.

Lamb Price Overview:

  • Over the past four weeks, all lamb indicators have seen an increase:
  • Heavy lamb indicator rose by 11%, settling at 504.69¢/kg carcase weight (cwt).
  • Light lamb indicator surged by 32%, reaching 386.09¢/kg cwt.
  • Merino lamb indicator increased by 35%, standing at 318.76¢/kg cwt.
  • Restocker lamb indicator went up by 20%, marking 336.65¢/kg cwt.
  • Trade lamb indicator saw a 12% rise, ending at 486.52¢/kg cwt.

Mutton Market:

  • Mutton prices haven’t experienced the same upward trend as lamb. The national trade lamb and heavy lamb indicators have both seen consecutive weeks of price increases. However, the mutton indicator remains at 104¢/kg live weight (lwt), unchanged from a month ago.

Slaughter Insights:

  • Recent data from the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) highlights an 8% increase in lamb slaughter over the past week, while mutton demand remained largely unchanged.
  • Mutton slaughter has generally been higher than the levels seen in 2021 and 2022. However, it recently dipped below the 2022 figures for only the second time this year, indicating a shift in processor demand away from mutton.

Market Environment:

  • The current market environment is atypical. Historically, mutton prices peak in July, followed by a decline entering the spring season. Trade lambs follow a similar trend, peaking around July/August. However, this year’s patterns deviate from the norm, with the expected mutton price recovery in October yet to materialise.
  • Despite the unpredictability, the recent break in the downward trend of prices might signal a renewed market confidence and a growing demand from processors for finished products.