Don’t be too deflated

Livestock | 4th March 2024 | By Matt Dalgleish

Market Morsel

Sheep and lamb prices have recovered from the declines seen during 2023 and in this analysis we take a look at where they currently sit in relation to long term inflation adjusted pricing for trade lamb and mutton with prices adjusted so that historic pricing is all expressed in 2024 dollar values.

The National Trade Lamb Indicator (NTLI) averaged 656c/kg cwt during February 2024, which is a 49% gain on the 441c/kg low that occurred during September 2023. The NTLI bounced nicely off the bottom of the “normal” range back in September 2023, which is has done several times after price corrections since the early 2000s. The normal range is highlighted by the grey shaded region on the chart below and it demonstrates, in 2024 dollar values, where the trade lamb price has fluctuated for 70% of the time since the mid 1950s. This normal range is between 437c/kg cwt to 858c/kg cwt, based on current dollar values.

Historically, the long term deflated average price for trade lamb sits at 648c/kg cwt as outlined by the black dotted line on the chart above. January 2024 saw average monthly trade lamb pricing peak at 738c/kg cwt but prices have eased back toward the long term average during February.

The orange dotted lines represent the extreme price boundary, as only 5% of the time since the mid 1950s have trade lamb prices moved outside of this range. In current dollar values trade lamb price below 230c/kg cwt or above 1070c/kg cwt would be considered extreme based on the historic price variation seen since the mid-1950s.

Meanwhile, the chart below shows a similar deflated price analysis for the National Mutton Indicator (NMI). The long term average price for mutton sits at 375c/kg cwt in 2024 dollar values, with a “normal” range between 215c/kg cwt and 535 c/kg cwt. Currently, the mutton indicator sits at an average of 273c/kg for February 2024 after rebounding 133% from the 117c/kg low average price seen during October 2023.

In terms of the extreme price range, mutton prices above 695c/kg cwt or below 55c/kg cwt would be considered rare and have occurred just 5% of the time since the mid-1950s, based on current dollar values.


  • CPI
  • Deflated
  • Prices
  • Sheep
  • Lamb
  • Inflation