Peter Crichton’s commentary for January 3, 2014

A slightly cautious rather than a happy New Year was the theme for pig sellers today, with spot quotes slipping by 2-3p/kg and contract prices also travelling south following a significant drop in the DAPP, which has slipped by 1.48p and now stands at 169.93p. The fall was due to technical data problems that saw the DAPP was based on a much smaller pig sample than usual.

Gills dropped its weekly contract price by 2p to 170p and Tulip is no longer publishing an across the board shout price, but the major buyers are reporting that the gap between UK and EU mainland prices has grown too wide and a correction (in the UK price) is overdue.

Spot bacon was generally traded in the 165-170p/kg range, although the good news is that there were no reports of any large numbers of pigs being rolled, even if those that were selling were less money than previously.

Spot prices have now fallen by 12-15p/kg since their peak in November, but the early part of any New Year is normally something of a minefield for those selling spot bacon.

Once the Christmas/New Year backlog has been cleared, hopefully we will see a return to slightly firmer trading levels, but with EU mainland producer prices at not much more than 130p/kg, imports still pose a major threat in the weeks ahead.

Despite a falling euro which traded on Friday worth 82.9p, cull sow values have held at similar levels with most bids in the 100p region, which almost exactly matches their value this time last year.

Weaner prices have hit something of a plateau, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm weaner average quoted at £55.36/head and 7kg weaners trading at £43.33/head. If finished pig prices continue to wobble, some buyers may also cut their bids accordingly.

Grain markets have remained relatively calm over the New Year period with ex-farm feed wheat quoted at £158.90/t and the futures market reflecting an easier trend with March feed wheat trading at £162.80/t and November as low as £150.50/t.

Feed analysts are pointing to a decline in demand for EU feed barley, which could result in lower prices in the months ahead, making barley more than competitive with wheat.

UK soya prices have also remained a shade easier with Hipro Soya meal quoted at £382/t ex-port and rape meal at £211/t.

And finally, the NPA Traffic Light service enters its 14th year providing producers with target spot prices for the trading week ahead against which they can make marketing decisions and hopefully continue to drive some hard bargains with processors.

> 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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