Help!

Little good news to report this week and the SPP continues on its downward track dropping another 0.82p to stand at 157.07p, while the influential German producer price has also fallen another 5 cents to 1.45 EUR, equivalent to 128p/kg in our money.

The lethal combination of a reduction in Chinese demand, rising pig numbers across mainland Europe and in the US and generally indifferent demand, have all contrived to push UK pig numbers from famine to feast.

Boneless cuts coming in from Spain and elsewhere are undercutting domestic prices to a significant degree and the Euro is also weakening in value, which rubs salt in the wound.

It would probably be misleading to quote spot prices because very few pigs were traded with most on contract, although regular weekly spot sellers could expect to receive prices in the 145p region, but sellers of one off spot loads would be lucky to achieve 140p in places.

Tough times for pig sellers with dead weights continuing to rise and, as Christmas looms, several large operators are indicating their average weights are now at the 84kg – 86kg range compared with little more than 80kg this time last year when pigs were being brought forward for Christmas. But with no extra space out there, it is very difficult for producers to keep on top of their numbers.

Looking ahead, news that the Brechin abattoir should be up and running in early November, will help to mop up extra pigs from Scotland, which up to now have been looking for new homes, and colder weather could also slow down pig growth rates and stimulate human appetites… we shall see, but currently the whole finished pig sector is very much a buyer’s market.

Cull sow prices are also a ready barometer of European wide pig meat values and, unfortunately, these took another knock, dropping 5p with most culls now trading in the 70p – 73p region compared with 91p a year ago. Those Were The Days My Friend (Mary Hopkin).

The Euro traded on Friday worth 88.65p compared with 89.7p a week ago, also putting pressure on import/export margins.

Weaner prices have unsurprisingly continued to fall, and although most weaners are traded on contract linked to the SPP, this will continue to feed through to the AHDB figures, with the 30kg ex farm average dropping £1.93 to £56.30 and 7kg pigs easing by 35p to £41.80.

Protein prices saw 48% soya traded ex-Liverpool at £2/t easier at £317/t but 34% rape meal was a touch further trading up £2 at £164/t. During the week, UK feed wheat futures prices eased slightly, although longer dates gained with November traded at £138/t and March at £143.85, although March 19 was well ahead of these levels at £150.80p. UK spot ex-farm feed wheat was traded in the £135.50/t region.

And finally some good news, with reports that antibiotic use for farm animals has fallen to its lowest level in the UK since records began 25 years ago, dropping by 25% over the last 3 years.

All this should help to combat the challenge of antibiotic resistance (AMR) and yet another reason why pig meat consumption should help to underline its role as ‘healthy eating’.

Drug resistant super bugs remain a global problem but are not just confined to human health issues and in many cases the UK is well ahead of other countries in this field.

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About The Author

Based in Suffolk, Peter Crichton provides a wide range of valuation, auction and livestock marketing services, as well as supplying the UK pig industry with a wide range of consultancy services covering tenancy, contract advice, pig equipment and herd valuations as well as dispute resolution. For more information visit: www.petercrichton.co.uk