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Sheep and Lambs

General market situation 2010

Sheepmeat production during 2010 is estimated at 47,600 tonnes, a decline of 14% on the figure for 2009. The decline in production is a consequence of the reduction which has taken place in the national breeding flock in recent years.

Output in Ireland

In 2010 the output value of the sheep and lamb sector rose by roughly six percent to  €167m.



Average factory prices for 2010 were up 17% on 2009 level. This reflects the intense competition among processors for scarce supplies.



Slaughterings at DAFF-supervised premises in 2010 totalled 2.120 million (calendar year). This represents a decline of 13% on the 2009 figure (calendar year), reflecting the tight supply situation.



Consumption of sheepmeat on the home market is estimated to fall fallen by 15% to 15,100 tonnes in 2010. The volume exported declineD by 11% to 36,500 tonnes in 2010. The reduction in the quantity consumed on the domestic market can be attributed to competition from other cheaper proteins. The reduction in the quantities exported is a consequence of the lower production.

Outlook for 2010

The low carryover of hoggets from 2010 has got 2011 off to a strong start and the market environment for sheepmeat for the remainder of the year is set to remain positive. Although all indications are that flocks in the UK and Ireland are stabilising, there is a continued tightening of supplies in continental Europe with overall production set to fall 1% in the coming year, and to tighten by 3% by 2015. This combined with an expected drop of up to 10% in the 2010/11 volume of NZ exports due to severe weather conditions during their Spring, will help to insulate farmer prices from what remains a lacklustre demand on the home market.

Supplies at the Irish export plants tightened by 13% to 2.120m in 2010. With the effects of higher retention rates this coming year we could see a further, though more marginal, decline of about 2%. Average farm-gate prices for the coming year should compare well with those of 2010.  
Exports declined in volumes by 11% to 36,500 tonnes in 2010, but with tighter availability on all markets, the total value increased by 4% to €170m. Assuming that consumption on the home market stabilises, exports for the coming year should be in the region of 36,000 tonnes. Currency movements, in particular the strengthening of the NZ dollar, should support the competitiveness of Irish lamb overseas. There is a positive outlook from France, our largest export market, which is predicting a drop of around 1% in domestic production, while consumption is forecast to recover by 2%. This will lead to an estimated rise of 4% or 5,000 tonnes in import demand.  
Global demand for lamb is growing with experts predicting a rise of 6% in consumption over the next 10 years, driven mostly by China, North Africa and the Middle East.