Peter Crichton’s commentary for June 13, 2014

It was a less buoyant day than expected, and finished pig and sow prices have been affected by a surge in the value of the pound, which hit a new five-year high on the currency markets today with the result that the value of the euro has fallen to 79.87p. This represents a 4% drop in the cost of imports and a similar increase in the price of exports, including cull sows.

Despite warm weather, the start of something called the World Cup and the approach of mid-summer, most retailers were reporting that pigmeat sales have remained generally flat, and despite live pig numbers and availability being on the tight side, spot and contract demand remained relatively quiet, with spot bacon traded between 165p and 168p and various weekly contribution prices – as they’re now called – published by the major players, including Tulip, Woodheads, Karro and Cranswick easing by between 1p and 3p.

These contract prices are fed into the DAPP and will inevitably pull it down at a time of year when prices should be heading the other way, but one positive factor has been the continuing slide in feed values.

Although there are signs of slightly better pigmeat demand across Europe, any hopes of a rise in cull sow values, which have remained marooned at their current low level for several months, were dashed by the fall in the value of the euro, with the result that most prices were within a fairly tight 90-93p/kg range – although numbers are slightly tighter, which could help to perk up demand, providing that the recent surge in the value of the pound doesn’t continue.

Weaner prices are continuing to improve, with the latest ADHB 30kg ex-farm price up from £55.80 to £56.43, and 7kg piglets were also trading at more money, rising from £40.82 to £41.34. Any further falls in the value of wheat will reduce COP levels and should enable weaner prices to continue on their upward track.

On the subject of feed, prices continued to drift lower, with July futures traded today at £139.50/t and new-crop wheat quoted at about £130/t ex-farm in East Anglia, mainly due to much higher worldwide wheat stocks and favourable Northern Hemisphere growing conditions.

And finally, on the hot topic of disease prevention and control, with PEDv still rampaging across the United States, one lorry driver reported to me that some of the abattoirs he visits do not even have a foot dip full of disinfectant for the drivers to use on their lorry wash bays. So, this is a plea to slaughterhouse operators to have a look out of their back door to ensure that they’re not the culprits.

With the recent report from one American farm of PEDv-related mortality at 67%, this could be a disaster waiting to happen over here unless we continue to maintain the utmost vigilance. Lorry washes and their facilities should receive much closer scrutiny and attention as part of Farm Assurance and BQAP certification.

> 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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