Peter Crichton’s commentary for March 27, 2015

Most contract and spot prices were operating in stand-on mode today, with the SPP virtually unmoved at 132.64p and spot quotes 2p/kg to 3p/kg lower than this, with most traded in the 128p/kg to 132p/kg region.

Although the euro has improved marginally in value, rising from 72.39p last week to trade at 73.33p on Friday, this had no effect on cull sow prices, which remain under pressure from high European stocks.

Rumours were also circulating concerning the possibility of further (downward) adjustments to bacon pig contract prices to try and bring them more in line with Europe, where average producer prices are around 100p/kg, admittedly for a heavier pig with fewer bottom line deductions, but with the current GB pig cost of production estimated at between 135p/kg to 140p/kg, most producers are now trading in negative financial territory.

Despite the availability of Private Storage Aid, large volumes of unsold European manufacturing grade pigmeat, partly due to the ongoing Russian embargo, are continuing to put a lid on any improvements in cull sow values, which remain at ludicrously low levels in the 57p/kg to 60p/kg range.

Weaner prices continue to reflect the indifferent outlook for finished pig values in the months ahead, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm average quoted at £44.67/head and 7kg weaners at £33.12/head. But, as most finishers know, it’s impossible to rear a pig from 7kg to 30kg for less than about £17 to £18/head and, on this basis, 30kg weaner producers will be losing money at current price levels.

Futures prices for feed wheat on the LIFFE market also reflected slightly easier trends with today’s quote for feed wheat at £121.75/t for May and £131/t for November, but the last thing hard-pressed pig producers can face at present would be a spike in cereal values.

And finally, for those outdoor pig breeders who would like to show their wife (or somebody else’s wife/girlfriend) a good time, why not come along to my sale of 500 sows worth of outdoor equipment on the Crichel Estate, near Blandford Forum, tomorrow (March 28) in beautiful rolling Thomas Hardy Dorset countryside. I’m sure there will be more than enough lots to go round, so don’t forget your chequebooks!

> 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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