Significant variations in lamb prices across Australia's three biggest sheep producing states

Kristen Frost
By Kristen Frost
May 11 2022 - 3:00am
MARKET REGULARS: Greg Dew and Annette Cushion, Birdwood, SA, at a recent Mount Pleasant, SA, market.

The lamb market seems to have happily absorbed extra numbers in the saleyards with all the national indicators rising from the week prior, bar mutton.

Light lambs appeared to be the stars rising 38 cents to 797c per kilogram carcase weight (cwt), yet there were large variations across three biggest sheep producing states.



The light lamb indicator rose 64c in New South Wales, but fell in South Australia and Victoria 103c and 39c respectively.

And although the Eastern States Trade Lamb Indicator (ESTLI) gained 18c on the week before to land at 798c/kg cwt, it is still 100c lower than it was this time last year.

In fact, last month trade lamb prices hit their lowest point since October 2018 when they dropped to 765c/kg cwt.

National Reporting Livestock Service (NRLS) data revealed trade lamb prices have continued on a downward slope since peaking at a record high of 951.2c/kg cwt in August last year.

According to Meat and Livestock Australia's (MLA) market information analyst Jenny Lim, trade lamb prices have been jumping around for some time in particular SA and Western Australia.

"SA prices have been volatile since the beginning of the year, jumping from week to week depending on what sale is going ahead," Ms Lim said.

"Last week, Naracoorte was trading at a 28c premium on the state average, while the SA Livestock Exchange was trading under the state average by 34c.

"With both saleyards having similar throughput, this fluctuation in price can impact the state averages significantly."


Meanwhile, WA prices have softened considerably since the beginning of the year, albeit gaining 88c last week to finish at 675c/kg cwt.

According to Ms Lim trade lamb prices in WA are trading at a 23pc or182c discount to average daily prices year-on-year.

"Prices eased 269c between March and April, but have looked to strengthened a little going into May," Ms Lim said.

"Trade lamb prices in both WA and SA have been operating under the national average, with the average trade lamb price in WA being 175c under the national average."

Matt Dalgleish from Thomas Elder Markets confirmed a look at average monthly trade lamb price spreads between WA and the east coast showed that it is a pretty rare occurrence to see WA trade lambs have the upper hand over the east coast.



"Over the last decade the percentage spread for WA has fluctuated between a 10pc premium to a 30pc discount, with most of the time spent in discount territory," Mr Dalgleish said.

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Kristen Frost

Kristen Frost

National Sheep and Wool Writer

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