Peter Crichton’s commentary for February 21, 2014

Prices appear to have stabilised after several weeks of significant falls, and although the DAPP lost 0.76p and now stands at 164.44p, it still provides a useful return for sellers, assuming that feed costs stay at similar levels.

Spot quotes have also eased with further reports of indifferent fresh meat retail demand, as well as keen competition from foreign imports that are able to undercut the domestic product by 15% in some cases, making it a very tempting alternative for cost-conscious supermarket buyers.

Spot prices continue to operate within a wide range, with quotes of anywhere between 156-162p/kg according to region and spec, and whether or not you’re a regular of one-off seller.

Non farm assured pigs have been trading at even less than this, with some at little more than 150p/kg underlining yet again the need for producers to support Red Tractor wherever possible.

Cull sow prices have mercifully held at last week’s levels, and the currency markets have had a relatively quiet week with the euro trading on Friday at 82.18p, which is virtually identical with its value a week ago.

Most cull sow quotes were within a fairly narrow 96-98p/kg band, with reports of significant supplies available, but the markets are still overshadowed by the Russian EU mainland pigmeat import ban, which was sparked off by the discovery of African swine fever in Lithuania. ASF has also now been confirmed in the Polish wild boar population and it’s creeping ever closer to the main pig producing countries of the EU mainland, not to mention the UK. But this may also have political undertones, especially with the EU cosying up to some of the dissident groups in the Ukraine to try and influence them to think West rather than East (West is best by the way).

Weaner prices have remained firm with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm weaner average quoted at £55.05/head and 7kg weaners at £40.92/head.

Weaners are, however, in short supply and with feed prices at much lower levels than a year ago, still provide the opportunity for finishers to earn useful profits.

Lack of finishing space remains the topic of the pig industry as a whole, and for anyone bold enough to start putting up new accommodation while interest rates remain at their current level, good returns either as a landlord/investor/pig producer should be achievable.

Hopefully the unrest in the Ukraine will not unsettle the feed markets to any significant extent, although UK feed wheat May 2014 prices made modest gains to trade at £155.50/t and ex-farm feed wheat was also quoted slightly dearer at £151.40/t.

Concerns over hot and dry weather conditions in Southern America have also resulted in demand for US soya beans improving, although this has yet to filter through to the UK market where Hi-Pro Soya (ex East Coast) was trading £1/t down at £383/t, but rape meal prices are hardening and rose by £15/t to £233/t.

And finally, bearing in mind that this week marks the 13th anniversary of the catastrophic FMD outbreak in the UK, the need to maintain the highest possible biosecurity barriers as the first line of defence is essential.

> 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

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