More lambs expected to hit the Australian market in 2022
In the sheep market, the trade lamb and restocker lamb prices reached records in 2021, hitting 951c/kg and 1,034c/kg, respectively. While other categories didn’t hit the highs of 2019 and 2020, prices remain high in a historical context, informs Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). Lamb supply was up in 2021 on the back of elevated marking rates, with recent data showing non-Merino breeds achieved 114% marking rates this year. The restrictions on Victorian processors slightly affected lamb supply in spring, however, since November 2021 slaughter has performed above 2020 levels. Lamb slaughter should finish the year 3% above 2020 levels.
The spring flush in NSW and Victoria came later this year than the five-year average. As a result, there will be more lambs hitting the market in 2022 that have been finished on stubbles. Between November 2021 and March 2022, there are expected to be 2.9 million more sales than the corresponding period 12 months ago – a great thing for consumers looking to cook lamb over Christmas and in the summer.
This year, survey results from producers indicated that the flock rebuild is still ongoing, with 51% still looking to increase their flock in 2022. 30% of these are looking to do so by buying in more ewes, which will help keep demand high for mutton and ewe lambs, even with higher supply, underpinning stable prices.
The demographic of the flock has also changed in the last 12 months as producers look to retain more ewe lambs to build their flock, with more crossbreds used as breeding ewes. Only 72% of the breeding ewe population is Merino, a decrease from above 75% last year. There has also been growth in the Queensland sheep flock over the last 12 months.
However, certain elements such as tight labour force and freight costs and shipping logistics may be difficult to overcome next year. "Shipping prices have risen sharply and getting access to boats and containers is proving hard. However, this is not a problem unique to Australia. Continuing to get products out of Australia could be difficult in 2022. The freight issues are also making it hard for producers to source key inputs such as feed supplements, fertiliser and fuel," says the report.
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