STRONG processor demand has seen mutton prices become a talking point as sales jumped to 480 cents a kilogram at the Muchea Livestock Centre on Tuesday, January 16.
In the Landmark market report auctioneer Tiny Holly said, “the mutton market closed up $10-$15 for both the wool and bare shorn lines in a dear market not seen at the centre for many years”.
“Best mutton ranged between $130.50-$149.50 for bare shorn,” he said.
“The strong market followed all the way through the mutton lines and was a strong talking point in the lanes.”
The sale saw a total yarding of 13,914 – 7000 head less than the previous sale on Tuesday, January 9.
Elders Muchea market report also stated that mutton had jumped 120c/kg above January 2017 prices – due to “strong processor demand”.
The Elders report shows heavy mutton and trade mutton rose $3-$5 per head and boner mutton was up $2-$3 at Muchea on Tuesday, January 16.
At Katanning Elders reported heavyweight mutton rose $6-$8 and trade and boner mutton went up $2-$4 per head the same week.
Landmark reported heavy mutton rose $10-$15 per head, while trade rose $7-$12, boners were up $5-$8 and light mutton rose $3-$7 per head at Muchea.
And at Katanning the Landmark mutton prices “remained firm over most grades with the best heavy sales from $115-$125 per head”.
The mutton market has risen from 360c/kg last January to 410c/kg in December, to 420c/kg on January 9, to a high of 480c/kg last week.
This week Elders reported the price dropped by 30-50c/kg on January 23, to 450c/kg, which could be due to the increase of 10,000 head yarded.
The Western Australian Meat Marketing Co-operative (WAMMCO) and Fletchers International both agreed that supply and demand was the driving factor in the prices – and there wasn’t any demand out of the ordinary from their customers.
“There has been less supply than normal,” said Fletchers International livestock agent James Moulton.
“That’s driven competition among processors,’’ Mr Moulton said.
“January is usually the hardest month to source supply because farmers are away on holidays and they usually don’t bring them into the yards for another week or two.
“It’s all about supply and demand.”
WAMMCO chief executive officer Coll MacRury said price rises were generally due to a shortage of supply.
“There’s not enough stock to go around,” Mr MacRury said.
He said the mutton numbers “weren’t huge” – with “definitely less numbers” than usual.
“We are more lamb dominated at WAMMCO so it’s not as big an impact on us,’’ he said.
“But there is a steady demand from consumers.
“By about February we hope things rectify a bit.”
The January 16 mutton price was equal to the 2017 high.
This was reached on March 7 last year, when Elders reported that “heavy trade ewes in the 25 kilograms plus dressed weight range sold at rates of $15-$20 above last week’s sale at times and within the price range of $110-$130 returning in the pen costings of 480c/kg dressed weight”.
The 2017 high lasted five weeks before dropping 30c/kg.
Despite the price drop the 2017 prices were better than the 2016 mutton prices which peaked in July at 350c/kg before sliding back again.
Mutton prices have fluctuated above the 300c/kg mark since April 2016.