When sheep prices were in the doldrums most of the fingers were pointed at the meat industry.
But meat is only part of the value of sheep and lambs. Until the last couple of seasons it wasn’t just meat prices but returns for by-products like wool, pelts, lanolin which were also low.
In the last couple of years returns from sheep and lambs has been much better, partly because of the increased demand and consequently price of meat but also because of higher demand and prices for the by-products.
Among those is lanolin, the price of which has doubled as sheep numbers have dropped.
New Zealand Wool Services International (WSI) – one of the country’s two scour operators – says prices for that product have almost doubled
in the past two years.
WSI chairman Derek Kirke says like wool, the price surge has been driven by a world supply shortage, due to the drop in sheep numbers.
Tailing hasn’t finished yet but early indications are this year’s lamb tally will be well up on last season’s which was hit by big losses after the September snow.
Not all of those will be sold this season, if feed supply allows it, farmers will hold some stock back to rebuild flocks.
Demand is still expected to remain high although there will be a ceiling to the price.
Lamb is already out of reach of the budget conscious and there will consumer resistance from those with more disposable income if the price gets too much higher.