Peter Crichton’s commentary for May 8, 2015

The General Election has proved to be somewhat more exciting than the pig trade, and although prices have generally remained at stand-on levels, retailers are still playing hardball on the price front wherever they can.

The SPP moved ahead a shade and now stands at 131.85p, and most spot pigs were traded in the 128p to 130p range.Weekly announced prices are still, however, lagging well behind the field in the 125p to 127p range, continuing to reflect the impact that significantly cheaper foreign imports are having on the market.

Although UK shares surged on the election outcome and the pound gained slightly in value against the euro, by Friday afternoon, everything has settled down and the euro had slipped back to trade at 72.86p compared with 74.1p a week ago. A weaker pound would have helped as far as cull sow quotes are concerned, but these generally remained at stand-on levels, trading in the 55p to 58p range according to load size.

Weaner prices have improved a touch, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm average quoted at £44.42/head and 7kg at £33.35/head.

It’s still, however, difficult to find finishers with enough confidence to pile into this sector of the market, other than at bargain basement prices – in most cases, weaner breeders are now operating on negative margins.

Apart from the outcome of the election, the only other bright spot appeared to be continuing falls in feed prices, and May feed wheat futures on the LIFFE exchange have eased again to £108.50/t, although November is significantly ahead of this at £119.25/t. Spot feed wheat trades are quoted at about the £105/t mark.

And finally, reports that the Pulled Pork television commercials are due to hit our screens tonight have come not a moment too soon and it’s hoped that these will help to stimulate demand for a part of the pig that can be hard to sell, especially during the summer months. There’s a school of thought, however, that a late winter/early spring campaign would have been more effective.

At least with the General Election out of the way (until the next one), there’s one less thing for us to worry about; but concerns still remain over the longer-term viability of the British pig industry. Unless we see a price revival in the next few months, I may be busy with my gavel once again following reports of more units possibly closing down – not to mention the financial situation faced by ACMC which is in administration.

> 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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