Thursday, 8 April 2021
With Easter now behind us, the next big event on the sheep meat market calendar is the Muslim festival of Ramadan.
Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which Muslims abstain from the consumption of food from dawn to sunset. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, the dates for the festivals move forward 10 or 11 days every year. This year, Ramadan should to begin on 12/13 April and run to 12/13 May, depending on the sighting of the moon.
Although many think of Ramadan as a fasting festival, Muslims fast during the daylight and then typically would break the fast by having large meals with family and friends, in which lamb features heavily.
Eid al-Fitr is the festival of breaking the fast and is celebrated a day after the end of Ramadan. Families usually gather for the Eid al-Fitr celebration and sheep meat is typically used in kebabs and curries.
Eid al-Adha or Qurbani
Another key time for sheep meat consumption is Eid al-Adha, or Qurbani festival, which this year is expected to run from 20-23 July. Eid-al-Adha begins around 70 days after the end of Ramadan. As part of the festival every Muslim follows in the footsteps of the Prophet Abraham and has an animal slaughtered as an offering to God. The meat, called the Qurbani, is spilt into three portions - one for the person buying, one for friends and neighbours, and one for charity. Processors typically begin sourcing animals two or three weeks before the festival.
For farmers and processors looking to access this market, it is important to note that demand for sheep meat during this festival is split into two categories: meat for the Qurbani charitable giving, and meat for the normal Eid festival. Animals for the Qurbani market must meet certain requirements with regard to sexual maturity and other features. There are no specific requirements for meat destined for the Eid al-Adha market.
What does this mean for sheep meat demand?
Typically, sheep meat does well during these festivals, with many families stocking up on supplies for large family meals. If families and friends are not allowed to meet as normal over the period, then it is plausible that lamb demand could be weaker than usual. However, considering that Ramadan 2020 was observed under full lockdown, we may see some year-on-year growth in sales as restrictions ease this year.
For Qurbani, which is due to happen after all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted (on the current Government roadmap), we could see strong demand for sheep meat if restrictions allow traditional practices. It remains to be seen what restrictions will allow at this point though.
- 12/13 April: Start of Ramadan
- 12/13 May: End of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr)
- 20-23 July: Eid al-Adha/Qurbani festival
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