DESPITE hopes prime lamb values would hold up this week, prices have crashed to well below £2 per live kg and for fewer forward.
With the Royal Welsh Show on at the start of the week, it was hoped that the reduced numbers would help boost trade. 
However, nothing could be further from the truth at the live markets in Scotland on Tuesday, as values slipped by almost 30p per live kg and for almost 90% fewer compared to the previous week. Overall, 275 levelled at 181.8p.
Numbers and prices were also down on Monday with the Scottish value slipping 28p to average 185p for 34% less.
The trend has been repeated south of the Border too with values on Monday and Tuesday levelling at 188.5p on both days – down 19p on the week and for 31% fewer.
Claims that increased supplies of New Zealand lamb have been imported have been refuted too, with figures from the two largest exporters of sheep meat to the EU well down on the year according to the latest data from the European Commission.
Data covering January until early July, shows that New Zealand utilised just 41% of its quota. Of its annual quota of 228,254 tonnes carcase weight equivalent (cwe) 94,135 tonnes has been utilised. 
Historically, New Zealand would normally send larger amounts during the first half of the year when its own production is at a seasonal high and demand from the EU is also at its highest. Quota usage for the whole year could be as low as that seen in 2014, when only 68% was used.
However, the NZ lamb crop has been at a 63-year low in the 2016/17 season, with latest reports from the Ministry for Primary Industries suggesting that slaughtering and production was well down in 2016/17, year ended June, compared to 2015/16 and will remain at lower levels in 2017/18. 
Australia, the second largest exporter of sheep meat to the EU, would usually have utilised all or nearly all of its EU quota. However, in the period January until early July 2017, Australia only used 41% of its 19,186 tonnes cwe quota. 
In addition to the low lamb crop in New Zealand mentioned above, the pound sterling is weaker than last year so reducing returns to exporters. This is discouraging trade especially when around half of NZ exports to the EU are destined for the UK.