Peter Crichton’s commentary for December 20, 2013

The pig trading year is drawing to a close on a slightly downbeat note with the DAPP slipping from 171.69p to 171.32p and Tulip also bringing back its weekly price by a penny to 167p, which is the first time it has been adjusted since the August 31!

With two short slaughtering weeks ahead, spot buyers were spoilt for choice and were able to pick and choose to some extent, and although prices were easier they still maintained a reasonably firm base with most spot bacon traded in the 168-172p/kg range.

Sow prices took another hammering recording further falls across the board, with most sellers unable to get much more than 100p/kg for culls compared with 120p/kg in early October, which represents a drop of about £30/head.

Unfortunately, the euro also weakened over the week, dropping from 84.34p to 83.62p, and producers should be aware that EU mainland pigmeat values are in significant decline and will present a potent threat to UK prices early next year, especially if some of the large retailers and processors decide to buy foreign.

Looking beyond next January/February, hopefully finished pig prices will retain some stability, but could remain under pressure. Weaner buyers are still active in the market, probably reflecting more confidence about feed costs than finished prices, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm weaner average at £57.79/head.

The commodity markets have remained relatively quiet with January wheat quoted on the LIFFE market at £164.75/t and July trading at £169.50/t.

Ex-farm spot feed wheat is holding at £158/t with no major challenges to grain values on the horizon, although European markets are experiencing slightly stronger export demand to North African countries.

With barley trading at a significant discount to wheat, producers will be well advised to look at making better use of what has often been an underrated feed ingredient.

Chicago soyabean futures have closed slightly firmer and in the UK Hipro soya meal is available for December delivery at £382/t with rape meal also looking good value at £211/t.

Finally, let’s hope we have a reasonably prosperous New Year, although the first few months may prove to be more challenging than some think – especially if the gap between EU and UK pigmeat prices remains as wide as it is at present.

> Suffolk-based 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

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