ESTLI steady but a new record in the west

While the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) was steady for the week, there were still new records set this week.  In the West trade lambs jumped to a new record, while Merino lambs in Victoria are knocking on the door of $7.

WA doesn’t have the most expensive lambs in the country, but with the Western Australian Trade Lamb Indicator (WATLI) hit a new record this week.  The WATLI gained 17¢, to hit 681¢/kg cwt (figure 1), stronger than the ESTLI (670¢) but weaker than Victorian Trade Lambs, which sit at 695¢/kg cwt.

Victorian light lambs remain the most expensive, at 700¢, but actually lost 20¢ this week.  It was Victorian Merino lambs which streaked ahead, gaining 47¢ beat any previous Merino lamb record by miles, to sit at 686¢/kg cwt. NSW (649¢) and SA (562¢) also had lifts in Merino lamb prices, but WA saw a fall. The National Indicator posted a new record of 638¢/kg cwt (figure 2), well above last year’s peak.

After a run higher mutton prices steadied on a national scale, finishing 5¢ lower at 522¢/kg cwt.  Mutton pricing was all over the place in state indicators however.  Victorian Mutton fell 22¢, but SA gained 37¢ and WA was up 38¢.

It’s interesting to see lamb slaughter remaining relatively steady over the last five weeks (figure 3), at levels similar to last year.  As we said a couple of weeks ago, the same supply, and prices 12% higher, suggest demand has strengthened.

The week ahead

With the forward contracts bandied around this week, there looks to be little reason to expect lamb prices to fall anytime soon.  Whether prices can move consistently above 700¢ is the question, but if supplies step down like they normally do at this time of year we could.  However, looming processor seasonal shutdowns could limit demand and see prices track sideways.