Peter Crichton’s commentary for November 21, 2014

It was another challenging day for sellers with the SPP continuing its downward track, losing another 1.18p to stand at 146.89p and various weekly factory spot bacon prices now in the mid-130s and a far cry from the values at the start of the year.

Spot bacon quotes have also remained under pressure due to the significant gap that remains between EU and UK pig prices, and in many cases, 130p was quite a hard target to hit rather than the base price, with some trades in the 126-128p/kg region recorded.

However, some of the smaller fresh meat wholesalers were reporting slightly better orders and now might be the time to trickle out a few lighter cutter-weight pigs – rather than have to deal with them as overweight heavy hogs over the festive period – with spot quotes in the 155-160p region on the cards at the lighter end.

Unfortunately, the euro has taken a step in the wrong direction, trading on Friday at 79.12p compared with 79.69p a week ago, but despite this, cull sows have held at similar (but very low) values with bids in the 80-82p/kg range in the main.

Although the AHDB 30kg weaner average has improved to £50.64, 7kg weaners have slipped again and the overall average is now £35.33/head, but in both cases spot weaner trades have been £2-4 behind these figures. Due to the wide variety, and complexity of some weaner contract price deals, there can be significant variations between contract values according to when deals were struck.

Those selling on an SPP or similar index-related price for weaner contracts signed up in early 2014 or previously are probably looking at much rosier picture than those weaner producers who have recently renegotiated or are about to have to look for new outlets.

Feed prices have also continued with a slightly bullish edge, with spot wheat traded on an ex-farm basis up £4 compared with seven days earlier at £119.60, and futures prices also reflecting a reasonably firm trend with November wheat quoted on the LIFFE market at £123.40/t and March 2015 at £128.70/t.

And finally, news that movement licences are now being issued to pig/poultry producers caught up in the latest avian flu H5N8 outbreak will be a more than welcome pre-Christmas present for those producers who might have faced the prospect of a lockdown over the festive period.

However, this remains a wakeup call for the whole of the pig industry and underlines the need for the highest possible levels of biosecurity to be maintained, especially with PEDv as well as African swine fever both remaining potent threats.

> 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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