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Sheep and lamb prices at historical heights

Slaughter-ready lambs and sheep are at a high price. The traditional autumn dip was limited. Prices are now stabilising at a much higher level than in the last three years.

There is a historically high price level. Most odds remained stable this week. On the market there was a lot of demand for heavy ram lambs of over 25 kilos. The listing for this category rose by 5 euro to 160 euro. Ewes over 20 kilos were stable at 132.50 euros.

The price for slaughter sheep yielded 2.50 euros and came to 147.50 euros for slaughter first quality sheep. By way of comparison: last year this listing was 105 euro at the beginning of November, a difference of 42.50 euro per sheep.

The high level of slaughter lamb and sheep prices seems to be mainly a question of supply and demand. On the demand side, not so much has changed in the last few years. European mutton consumption is fairly stable, although it is declining over a longer period.

A shrinking European sheep population reduces the supply of abattoirs. In 2020, there were 62.2 million sheep in Europe, excluding Great Britain. In 2015, there were still 63 million, a decrease of 800,000 animals.

The Netherlands still had 890,000 sheep in 2020, 28,000 less than in 2019. Thirty years ago, there were 1.7 million sheep. In thirty years, Dutch sheep farming has almost halved.

Brexit seems to play a role in the current tightness on the market for Lamb and mutton. Traditionally, many sheep came from the United Kingdom (UK) to the European mainland. The UK has about 23 million sheep, more than a third of the total number of sheep in the European Union (EU).

The EU-UK sheep trade is hampered by Brexit. In the EU, the pound sterling has become more expensive compared to last year and more has to be paid for British lamb.

Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson is a native of Leeds, journalist and PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow. She is mainly interested in foreign affairs, geopolitics and investigative journalism.

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