Peter Crichton’s commentary for November 28, 2014

Perhaps not quite a Black Friday, but certainly a difficult one for pig sellers with prices still on the slide with the SPP losing a further 0.75p to stand at 146.14p.

But the trend of the widening gap between spot and contract prices continues and some spot quotes today were as low as 120p/kg, which compares with equivalent pigs selling in June this year at 170p/kg and represents an overall loss of 50p/kg in six months, equivalent to £40/pig supporting the theory that sometimes in life “the hottest can be the coldest”.

Most contract pigs tied to the SPP or similar index prices were traded in the 142-146p/kg range, although two major processors came out with what are now called “contribution prices” between 135p and 136p/kg.

Reduced export demand to some Far East destinations has also put further downward pressure on pig prices and has filtered through to the sow market, where quotes dropped a further 4p/kg with cull sows now trading in the 76-79p/kg region and as low as they have been for several years.

Fortunately, the Euro managed to improve a shade from 79.12p last Friday to 79.57p today, but any further weakening of this key currency would be another kick in the nuts for pig sellers.

The latest AHDB weaner prices are continuing to show an easier trend with the 30kg ex-farm average at £48.28/head and 7kg weaners £35.20/head, bearing in mind that these include a significant proportion of contract prices that are slower to come down (and slow to go up) and Freedom Food standard weaners, whereas spot quotes once again are operating at a significant discount.

Yet more bad news in the form of feed prices which are continuing their stealthy climb with the latest Farmers Weekly ex-farm feed wheat price quoted at £124.70/t compared with £99.70/t in late September.

UK feed wheat futures prices have reached £135/t for May, which is their highest price since July. The recent improvement in prices is attributed to a mixture of reluctant sellers and adverse new-crop weather conditions, despite global grain supplies remaining strong.

Rape meal has also reached the highest price levels for the past past months, although soya bean futures quotes have eased marginally.

And finally, East Anglian producers will be pleased to hear that Peter Mortimer is finally emerging from his dysentery nightmare, which first commenced on his Suffolk unit in May. All the progeny pigs have now left his unit and he has washed down ready to restock. I would like to join in with everyone else in congratulating Peter for doing the right thing by announcing the dysentery problem at the outset and reporting it to the veterinary authorities rather than, as some producers might be tempted to do, sweep it under the carpet and continue to run the risk of affecting other herds.

> 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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