Wood says that the Alberta lamb markets have been strong for the start of 2020.

“The Alberta live slaughter lamb price, estimated off the rail, was $2.26 per pound last week and on a year-to-date basis is averaging $2.10 per pound. Year-over-year, the year-to-date estimated live slaughter lamb price is up 15.6% and is 15.8% higher than the 5-year average.”

“Light and heavy Alberta lambs at auction were averaging in the low $200 per cwt to near $300 per cwt provincially last week - March 27, 2020. Year-to-date, auction market lambs are averaging about 15% higher for light lambs while heavier lambs are averaging about 18% higher compared to a year ago. Seasonally, these markets typically peak in May before declining in the second half of the year.”

He notes that upcoming holiday buying and a decline in lamb imports has been supporting the current strong lamb market.

“However, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to affect consumer demand. Like other meats, physical distancing measures has temporarily changed foodservice operations, conferences and travel - shifting more products to retail. Reports from the U.S. state that wool markets have temporarily closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic and restaurant demand has declined.”

Canadian lamb imports to the week ending March 21, 2020 are 3.44 million kg a decrease of 37.2% from 2019. Mutton imports are down 1.1% year-over-year at 1.1 million kg. Lamb imports have declined 25% from Australia, 46% from New Zealand, 52% from Ireland and 60% from Uruguay this year.

“Globally, demand for high quality lamb has increased faster than supply,” he adds.

“Global lamb and mutton supplies are expected to tighten further in 2020. Australia’s national flock is at a 115-year low and drought conditions are intensifying in New Zealand.”

“Global concerns about the economic effect of coronavirus is affecting lamb supply chains. In the short-term, slowing foodservice demand will weigh on live lamb prices but this is expected improve in the second half of the year.”

Contact

For more information, contact Jason Wood:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-422-3122
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: jason.wood@gov.ab.ca

For media inquiries about this article, call Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s media line:
Phone: 780-422-1005