“Alberta and Western Canada live lamb markets were quite variable during the first quarter of 2019,” explains Wood. “But, over the last few months the volatility has declined with Alberta prices now trending inline with historical seasonal patterns.”
He says that the estimated live slaughter lamb price is currently averaging over $240 per head, based on a 120 lb. lamb.
“Prices over the last few weeks are about $10 per head lower than the same time a year ago. But, compared to the 5-year average, recent prices are about $15 per head higher.”
For light and heavy lambs or feeder lambs, Wood says that the market has softened from the highs seen during late spring and early summer but remain well above the market lows experienced in December 2018.
As for slaughter rates, Wood says that the year-to-date federally inspected slaughter for Western Canada is up nearly 13% compared to 2018 and 19% higher than the 5-year average. In Eastern Canada, federally inspected slaughter is down nearly 8% from a year ago.
“For provincially inspected plants, lamb and sheep slaughter is down just over 9% in the west and 11% in the east. Overall, total Canadian lamb and sheep slaughter is down more than 6% compared to 2018.”
He adds that the decline in slaughter mixed with stable consumer demand has supported an increase in lamb and mutton imports this year of more than 6% compared to 2018 - and 15% higher than the historical 5-year average.
“Demand and consumption of lamb continues to be supported by increased foodservice offerings and a growing familiarity among consumers, especially millennials.”
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