Ulster Farmers’ Union, beef and lamb chairman, Crosby Cleland, has claimed that harsh and unfair tactics by processors to pull back lamb prices have gone too far. He says there is now a pressing need to inject stability back into the market.
“Processors have wiped ten per cent off the value of a lamb in the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“These tactics are destabilising the market and undermining producer confidence,” he added.
By contrast live-weight prices in marts in Great Britain have increased by at least 10 pence a kilo this week.
“This has to raise questions as to why processors here have pulled quotes back to £4 a kilo,” Mr Cleland says, adding that processors needed to be transparent and explain why prices are lower here than elsewhere in the UK.
“Processors often claim they need more in-spec lambs to meet customer requirements, but they’re not sending out the right signals to achieve this. Price stability in June and early July gave producers the confidence to pick lambs at the right time. This has now been eroded by price cuts,” he warns.
Mr Cleland says the result is greater uncertainty, which will undermine efforts to ensure consistent quality.
“This can be reversed if processors take some responsibility and bring stability back into the market,” says the UFU beef and lamb chairman.