Trade Talk by Harvey Pile

21st January 2017

Through the eyes of a youngster

Through the eyes of a relative youngster in the industry the long term future looks uncertain as we are faced with the unknown consequences of a Brexit deal. Each week in South Molton Market I dare to speculate and predict with clients and colleagues but the reality is no one can say for sure how the outlook will be for those who have risked lambing during the winter and those who have held lambs hoping for the seasonal rise usually seen in the spring.  

In a global market where economics, politician’s words, currency fluctuation, religious festivals and supply and demand dictate which way the value of Lamb & Mutton will go. As we speculate and try to forecast what the spring has in store for us basing it on seasonal weather, historical trends and what limited information only some of us will be accurate with our predictions.

Cold and dry weather has dominated our Autumn and Winter months and for the most part this has suited Lamb & Grazing Ewe finishers. They should have had lower costs, a lesser workload and more longevity in the pastures and fodder they are feeding. But has this easier winter meant people have held their lambs during the lowest trading weeks? I fear this is the case for some, in turn providing more overweight and overfat product to an already saturated niche market.

Those that have purchased store lambs wisely, and are farming something which will be ready at those optimum weights are taking a more calculated risk than those finishing large framed lambs often purchased in the mid too late £60’s. I sincerely hope the risks are rewarded but in reality like the Stock market there will be winner’s and loser’s. Large finishers turning over large numbers of lambs to gain a small margin can make it difficult for those only buying a few to firstly buy them sensibly and also make a worthwhile margin to justify the capital outlay and workload. That said I’m sure those who have chosen sell as Stores are grateful of the buoyant prices.

All things being well and if the pound weakens I am sure the sheep industry and those that have spent late nights lambing this winter will be rewarded during the coming months in 2017.

Written by Harvey Pile, Stags.