Prices hit record highs
LUCKNOW — The second Easter of the pandemic has come and gone, but lamb and sheep meat producers continue to enjoy bullish demand — and prices — for an increasingly popular product all year long.
Ontario Sheep Farmers District 3 Director Keith Todd says there is a robust global appetite for lamb and sheep meat, a trend reflected in Canada, too, where producers can’t currently meet domestic demand for the commodity.
It’s been that way for a few years already, Todd says, though the market has been especially strong recently.
Prices for late lambs have recently hit the highest levels ever seen, he observes, while heavy lambs are now consistently fetching prices only rarely touched in more recent years.
“I’m not sure how long it can stay at this price point, but I know that, speaking to colleagues in Australia, they expect prices to stay strong internationally,” he says. The situation bodes well for domestic producers when selling into a market where imports are expensive. “We just don’t have enough product at this point,” he adds.
Even prices for sheep meat — aka mutton — “are highest they’ve ever been,” he marvels and exclaims: “A long time ago, you would hope to get $50 for a culled ewe, and this winter we sold them for $500.”
“It’s definitely a lot different from the past,” he says, explaining that mutton has shed its wartime reputation as a meal eaten when no other meat is available. He credits both the passage of time and Canada’s changing demographics to include cultures with a traditional taste for mutton and lamb.
“And the local food movement certainly helps, too,” says Todd, whose Lucknow operation sells breeding stock and produces over 1,000 lambs annually.
At Osgoode-based Maple Meadows Farm, co-owner Colleen Acres suggested a “courageous-in-the-kitchen” millennial generation was helping to drive demand.
On April 6, the average 80 to 94-lb lamb fetched just over $448 on the Ontario Livestock Exchange (with an average weight of 87 pounds that day). A year earlier, the price per hundredweight was $194.83.