Coronavirus in Victoria disrupts lamb market

By Jamie Salter

Abattoir closures in Victoria have disrupted the southern lamb markets, with four processing facilities not operating.

Two processing plants in Victoria temporarily shutdown operations because of the impact of the coronavirus.

Additional processing facilities have been able to offset the impact of plant closures as a result of low availability of lambs in the market.

For the week ending July 17, national lamb yardings jumped 22 per cent from the previous week to nearly 125,000 head.

NSW led the increase, with Wagga Wagga reporting an increased lamb yarding of nearly 30,000 head.

Numbers are still relatively subdued, which is not uncommon for this time of year, as processors take the opportunity to start maintenance work during the slowdown period.

On July 21, the eastern states restocker lamb indicator fell 91¢ to 815¢/kg carcase weight, the largest daily decline since February 2008.

Eastern trade and heavy lamb indicators also reported significant declines, back 20¢ and 25¢ to 780¢/kg cwt and 730¢/kg cwt, respectively.

In recent weeks, a relative increase in supply has resulted in prices falling from record highs earlier in the year.

The temporary shutdown of multiple processing facilities in Victoria has resulted in competition in the southern store market falling away, pulling prices down across all categories.

Subdued overseas demand has also added to the pressure.

On-ground reports at southern selling centres have alluded to the challenges in purchasing stock from interstate saleyards because of interstate travel restrictions surrounding COVID-19.