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Lamb market trends

Slaughter lamb prices are slowly gaining strength, while price volatility remains at auction markets.

See event listings and more articles in this edition of Agri-News: September 5, 2023 issue

“Although inflation is affecting buying habits and creating greater pressure on lamb retail prices and demand, prospects for lamb producers look favourable,” says Ann Boyda, provincial livestock market analyst with the Alberta government.

Alberta live weight lamb prices as reported by Statistics Canada for the period January through June 2023 were $249.37/hundredweight (cwt), down 4.7% from the same period in 2022. The average June Alberta lamb live weight price has increased by 24% since the start of 2023 and 11% over June 2022.

The average year-to-date (January to August 11, 2023) live weight cash price for slaughter lamb was $258.07/cwt, 2.3% lower than that of the same period last year but 15.6% higher than the 5-year average. Since May 2023, weekly live cash prices have surpassed prior year weekly prices.

Chart 1. Alberta Live Weight Cash Price Equivalent

Alberta live weight cash price equivalent chart
Source: Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation

“Price volatility remains at the auction markets,” says Boyda. “Average weekly auction market prices for the period January through June 9, 2023, were $222.45/cwt for market lamb and $262.07/cwt for feeder lamb, both showing a decline of nearly 20% over the same period last year.”

Chart 2. Average Weekly Alberta Heavy and Light Lambs

Average weekly Alberta heavy and light lambs ($/hundredweight) chart
Source: Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation

Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports 50,276 lamb and sheep slaughtered in Western Canada (B.C. to Ontario) year-to-date (January through August 4, 2023), an increase of 5.7% as compared to the same period in 2022. For the first 6 months of 2023, provincial slaughter of 13,821 head was just over 41.8% higher than the same period in 2022 and nearly 20% higher than that of the 3-year average.

Chart 3. Alberta Monthly Provincially Inspected Sheep/Lamb Slaughter

Alberta monthly provincially inspected sheep/lamb slaughter chart
Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation

Globally, the June 2023 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Food Outlook report forecasts a marginal increase in global meat production in 2023, led by poultry meat. Ovine meat is forecast to reach 16.8 million tonnes (carcass weight equivalent) in 2023, representing a 1% increase over 2022.

Recently, signs pointed to an improvement in U.S. lamb supply. U.S. domestic slaughter is above a year ago and imports are down. This may provide support for prices going forward.

USDA has reported lamb and mutton June production at 10.9 million pounds, down 5% from June 2022. Slaughter at 177,300 head was up 2% above last year for June and average live weight of 122 pounds was down 9 pounds from a year ago. U.S. slaughter is expected to decline seasonally.

Prices for U.S. 3-market (Colorado, South Dakota and Texas) slaughter lambs (100 to 150 pounds) showed an upward trend through 2023. Prices climbed to US$208/cwt by the first week of July and were at US$183.60/cwt in mid-August. The U.S. Livestock Marketing Information Center forecasts stronger prices with feeder lamb prices about 3% to 4% higher and slaughter lamb prices up 30%.

“U.S. weekly feeder lamb prices show comparable trends,” says Boyda. “Although the year-to-date (January to August 18, 2023) average U.S. feeder price of US$179.56/cwt is nearly 30% lower than same period last year, the average price since July (US$181.26/cwt) is nearly 13% higher than same period last year.”

The lamb carcass cutout value less processing and packaging costs continues to decline, averaging US$445.20/cwt year-to-date (January to August 4, 2023), 23.4% lower than same period in 2022 and nearing the 5-year average prices (2018 to 2022).

For more information, see:

Agricultural Marketing Guide


Connect with Ann Boyda for more information:

Phone: 780-422-4088
Email: [email protected]

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