Major French lamb importers and retail buyers confirmed to IFA that Irish lamb is currently at a price level they can work with according to IFA National Sheep Chairman James Murphy.
Following a visit to both the French and Belgium markets with An Bord Bia, including a visit to the Rungis lamb market in Paris, James Murphy said the buyers confirmed that they were very pleased with the quality of grade 1 Irish lamb in the 17 – 21kg weight range and Irish lamb has a very good image with French consumers.
Mr Murphy said despite the poor weather conditions in France recently, which had impacted on consumption, buyers were seeking increased volumes of lamb from Ireland.
The IFA sheep farmers’ leader said Bord Bia’s work in the market was very important for Irish lamb and particularly the Agneau Presto campaign with the French and UK targeted at younger consumers. In addition, Bord Bia are working hard to grow Irish lamb sales to meet the opportunity for lamb in the Belgium market.
In a meeting with the leader of the French sheep farmers Serge Preveraud, Mr Murphy said it is clear rising costs are also a major problem for French producers. “The Institut de l’Elevage confirmed to us that the costs of production in France had increased by over 30% since 2005. Mr Preveraud said that with rising costs French lamb prices must remain strong in order to stabilise production and encourage new entrants.
He said while the buyers on the French market, which imports 18,000t of Irish lamb annually, were of the view that the higher prices of the last 2 years had brought some challenges on consumption, they were all in agreement that the current prices were necessary to maintain production at farm level.
Key market messages for Irish farmers stressed by the buyers were to avoid over fat lambs later in the year and the need for a more consistent supply throughout the year.