Peter Crichton’s commentary for March 21, 2014

Despite the (hopefully receding) shadow of swine fever hanging over the industry, sellers enjoyed a relatively positive day in all sectors.

As reflected in recent upward price movements, finished pig availability remains tight, and although the latest DAPP moved down marginally to stand at 162.56p, spot prices travelled in the opposite direction and at a greater rate.

With no reports of any significant numbers being rolled and spot buyers generally on the prowl for additional pigs to fill their order books, sellers enjoyed a relatively good day with spot bacon quoted in the 165-168p/kg range according to spec.

Lighter pigs remain in short supply and are also starting to earn useful premiums, but sellers of pigs in all weight ranges may need this extra revenue to cover rising feed costs.

Reports on Wednesday afternoon that two pigs were displaying swine fever-like systems at Cheale Meats’ Brentwood abattoir send something of a shiver through the industry, but at the time of preparing this commentary I’m pleased to report that the first  tests have come back as “not positive” and hopes are rising that the second test results that are due in the next 24 hours will be the same. [NB: AHVLA confirmed the negative tests on Friday PM]

The loss of valuable export markets for sows, fifth quarter exports to China and the Far East and the thought of movement restrictions, don’t bear thinking about.

However, sow quotes for next week remain at stand on levels within a narrow 98-100p/kg trading range helped by a relatively firm euro, which was quoted on Friday worth 83.69p.

Weaner prices are continuing to reflect renewed confidence by finishers, and although these have yet to filter through to the latest AHDB figures of £55.26/head ex-farm for 30kg weaners and £41.13/head for 7kg piglets, signs are emerging that demand is outstripping supply, which should reflect in higher producer prices in the weeks ahead.

The spectre of higher feed prices, however, remains a cloud on an otherwise reasonably blue horizon and political instability in the Ukraine continues to unsettle the market to the extent that ex-farm feed wheat is now trading at £164.80/t compared with £151/t in mid January, and protein prices are also remaining bullish.

> 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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