French lamb prices remain strong
Lamb prices in France have advanced in November to €7.10/kg, up 76% from the prices recorded in November last year and €1.10 higher than the five-year average for the time of year. Production in the year to September has declined by 1%, reaching 63,700 tonnes and imports have dropped by 11% due to restrictions and the closure of the foodservice sector.
Usually, France imports about 50% of the sheepmeat consumed domestically and the UK is one of the main suppliers. "This year, however, French imports of UK sheep meat have fallen by 14%. UK production has been lower, but also, much like the UK, the French foodservice market has been thrown into turmoil by COVID-19. Retail demand in France is also reported to be lower, by 6% in the year to October. This figure also tallies with the calculated drop in supplies available for consumption based on production and trade. Imports of Spanish (-22%) and New Zealand (-28%) product have declined too, with only Ireland increasing shipments in the year to date (+15%)," commented Duncan Wyatt, AHDB lead analyst for red meat.
With domestic demand lower, it is a reportedly tight supply side that appears to be behind the high prices in France at the moment. Prices in France would be expected to rise further if no trade deal is agreed between the EU and the UK, as imports from the UK would then face a substantial tariff. UK prices would be expected to fall. "In this circumstance, some New Zealand product may well be diverted away from the UK and into the EU. For now, however, it is likely that these prices are lending some strength to store and finished prices in the UK," added Mr Wyatt.