ICSA Sheep chairman Paul Brady has challenged Ireland’s sheep processors to immediately recognise spring lamb as a premium product which demands a higher price.
Tight supplies are helping to keep hogget prices up, but new lamb coming onto the market is not attracting any additional spend by factory buyers.
Mr Brady said: “The fact that hoggets and new lambs are being quoted at or near the same price fails to take into account spring lamb as a top-quality premium product which consumers are willing to pay extra for. Once again we are looking at a situation where sheep farmers are clearly not getting a fair price for their produce and ICSA is saying to the factories that this is simply unacceptable.”
In addition, the sheep chairman also highlighted issues with weight restrictions being imposed by sheep meat processers on spring lamb producers. At present processers are working on a weight limit of up to 24 kg for hogget meat. By contrast, premium spring lamb is being quoted with punitive limits set at 19 or 20kgs.
He continued: “I have real concerns that farmers will see no real benefit to their hard work with early lambing and trying to intensively finish lamb early for Easter, at a much higher cost of production. If the factories fail to recognise the added value of spring lamb, then there is a real risk that this system of farming could be lost altogether.”