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*This is the sixth article in our 2024 Southwest Economic Outlook series. Hear from Oklahoma State University and OSU Extension Service, and Texas A&M University and TAMU AgriLife Extension Service economists about the 2024 outlook.
The past year was difficult for lamb and goat prices. Early 2022 saw record-high prices, but they collapsed in the year's second half. It took until the second half of 2023 for prices to increase above the year before, but they still lag well below the earlier record highs. Prices have the opportunity to grow in 2024 based on limited production.
Several factors worked in the lamb’s favor to allow prices to slowly climb much of the year. Lamb imports were the lowest since 2019. The amount of lamb in cold storage remained below the year before and below the five-year average. Federally inspected slaughter weights were lighter than the year before, negating the effect of more lambs going to slaughter early in the year and late in the year. The net effect of all these was that total lamb and mutton supplies were the least since 2017. That tighter supplies did not allow prices to increase even more indicates that the industry has been with some demand problems. Lamb remains more expensive than other meats. The demand boosts that lamb received during and after the pandemic as people tried different eating experiences waned as consumers reverted to the earlier habits.
Domestic production in 2024 will likely be about 4% less than in 2023. Imports are likely to remain constrained leading to the smallest total supplies in a decade. That should allow some continued boost in prices for the coming year.
Kid prices followed, largely, the usual seasonal pattern with the highest prices of the year in the spring before declining sharply in mid-year. The early-year peak in prices, about $423 per cwt, was lower than the $464 per cwt the year before. By July, prices for 40-to-60-pound kids at San Angelo, Texas, ranged from $261 to $350 per cwt, about equal to last year and the five-year average.
Federally inspected goat slaughter in 2023 was larger than last year but lighter weights kept production about the same. Goat meat production is likely to be about the same in 2024 with prices like those in 2023. Large imports from Australia continue to boost total supplies and likely limit price growth.
After a difficult year for prices, supply conditions suggest there will be some better opportunities in 2024. Improving demand would be a big boost to prices.
Related:No new farm bill... now what?
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