Lamb prices have continued to soften this week with all national indicators losing traction as new season suckers continue their springtime appearances.
Heavy lambs lost 40 cents, restocker lambs 52c and Merino lambs 58c. Light lambs were the best off, but still dropped 15c.
At the end of trade on Monday prices margins hadn't moved greatly with all categories except restocker lamb sitting below the 900c/kg cwt level.
Mutton went along for the ride, with prices falling to levels last seen in June last year.
The National Mutton Indicator (NMI) dropped 32 cents to land at 589 cents per kilogram carcase weight at the end of last week.
On Monday it was at a similar level at 591c/kg.
Off the back of an additional throughput of 10,000 head last week, the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) fell 4.7 per cent or 48c to finish at 891c/kg cwt.
Although the increase in supply helped pushed prices lower, the temporary closure of the Australian Lamb Company (ALC) after nine of its staff contracted COVID-19 also had a part to play in reduced demand.
And whilst the Western Australia trade lamb prices were at a 200c/kg cwt discount to the National Trade Lamb Indicator and eastern Australia saleyards, the market was generally stronger with the WA Trade Lamb Indicator gaining 14c to 748/kg cwt.
But although lamb turn-off numbers are starting to build and concerns are growing over Victorian metropolitan processor restrictions, according to industry experts the outlook is still relatively positive.
Rabobank senior analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said as lamb prices in the US continue to rise dramatically and with US retail prices now tracking at the highest point they have been in the last three years, there is no short-term outlook of a demand decline.
"The US equivalent of a carcase value for lamb over there has risen to US$6.9 a pound in September, compared to US$4 a pound in 2019," Mr Gidley-Baird said.
"US$6.9 from an Australian dollar point of view is about $20 per kilo so there are some phenomenal prices over there at the moment and as a result we have seen US import prices for Australian product lift as well.
"That very strong US lamb market is having an influence on the saleyards and reflected in lamb prices we are seeing in Australia being paid by processors."
He said exports to the US were up 62pc year-on-year for the month of August and now take about 27pc of Australia's overall exports compared to 23pc in the same period last year.
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