WHOLESALE prices for lamb in the US, Australia’s largest export lamb market, finished 2014 on a strong note, with carcases fetching prices not seen since mid-2012, and cuts for the foodservice sector maintaining their strong improvements achieved earlier in the year.

Meat and Livestock Australia reports while there is often a seasonal increase in lamb prices ahead of Christmas, carcases finished 2014 over 30US¢ a pound higher than a year ago, and 70US¢/lb higher than two years ago.

In addition, there was a strong utilisation of lamb stocks that had been building up in cold storage. USDA data showing that a record high of 40.2 million lbs in cold storage at the end of August had dropped to 31.4 million lbs by the end of November, with an increase again in December to finish the year at 33.8 million lbs.

Australian exports of lamb to the US were also high towards the end of 2014, with negotiated trades reported by the USDA showing their highest weekly volume since at least November 2011 in the week before Christmas.

Import prices, while showing some volatility from week-to-week, have also held up well against the high volumes, likely assisted by the falling $A.

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