29 Nov 2010

Silver Fern Farms says lamb buying battle unlikely

5:19 am on 29 November 2010

The country's biggest meat processor and exporter, Silver Fern Farms isn't expecting a further reduction in the lamb supply to trigger another stock procurement price war.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand's Economic Service estimates there will be almost 1.5 million fewer lambs to process for export this year, largely due to losses from spring storms in both the North and South Islands.

But Silver Fern's chief executive, Keith Cooper, doesn't think that's going to lead to the sort of intense competition sometimes seen in the past, with companies offering unsustainable prices.

Two seasons ago there was drop in the number of lambs killed in New Zealand, which did not cause a procurement war, he says, and people have cut their capacity to accommodate that decrease.

Mr Cooper says Silver Fern Farms did lose some stock supply when it refused to participate in a price battle for stock a year ago.