Wool factor upsets outlook Lamb is often a tricky market for the price forecasters, and it is becoming even more difficult than usual on news of a sudden severe downturn in the wool sector. Although the fleece is not seen directly as a major income source by most UK sheep producers, the skin value does affect processors' margins and payouts, and therefore can influence total supply of carcases from the home industry. Supply of imported sheepmeat might ultimately be affected if the recent wool price slippage and stock buildup in major markets including China seriously weaken producer confidence in southern hemisphere sheep industries which are more depedendent on the fibre for income. For the moment, other signals to buyers from the production sector seem ambiguous. New flock data published in Brussels suggest a slight downtrend in EU sheep production, largely due to the output drop in the UK, and there is not much sign of a big, price weakening supply surge likely to come from New Zealand, Australia or South America. On the other hand, developments in the eastern European industries and problems with British exports to France could prove cheapening influences. {{MEAT }}