New Zealand lamb meat prices rose last month on lower supplies but analysts expect the uplift will be temporary due to weak demand in the British market, where about two-thirds of New Zealand's lamb legs are exported.
The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in Britain rose to £4.20 per kg in September, from £4.10/kg in August and £3.40/kg in September last year, according to AgriHQ data.
In Kiwi dollar terms, returns were $7.51/kg in September, from $7.41/kg in August, and compared with $8.04/kg a year earlier.
In New Zealand, the average price from local meat processors lifted to $5.80/kg, from $5.68/kg in August, and compared with $6.05/kg a year earlier, AgriHQ said.
New Zealand lamb numbers are forecast to decline this season after the number of breeding ewes fell 3.1 per cent last season - the 10th consecutive annual decline.
While the lower supply has bolstered prices in recent weeks, that's expected to ease once the main production period begins due to weak demand in Britain and as export returns are hurt by the elevated level of the kiwi combined with a weak British pound.
"UK demand for New Zealand product is low, not helped by low consumer demand for lamb, which is priced much higher than alternate proteins such as chicken and pork," AgriHQ analysts Reece Brick and Shaye Lee said in a report.
"A larger portion of UK lamb is continuing to stay within the local market as well, providing little incentive for buyers to source from New Zealand."
Major supermarket chains in Britain have indicated they will step back from promoting chilled lamb this Christmas as they are unwilling to absorb the same losses generated in previous seasons, says the report.
Meat is NZ's second-largest commodity export behind dairy products.