Roller Coaster

As the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic start to bite on a global basis, there have been winners and losers as far as pig prices are concerned.

Although the SPP only moved up by 0.17 to stand at 163.22p, German producer prices are reported to have fallen by 7 cents. But at the same time, UK spot prices are soaring as retailers look to re-stock empty shelves.

Although the catering industry has virtually fallen off a cliff, signs are emerging that more consumers will be eating at home and this appears to have increased demand for all red meats across the board.

Spot prices have surged ahead with reports of deals being done in the 170-175p bracket and possibly more for one or two processors whose chillers are virtually bare.

Disappointingly at the time of preparing this report, most weekly contribution prices have remained at similar levels, between 155p-163p despite the additional assistance of a stronger Euro which traded on Friday worth 90.83p compared with 89.07p 7 days earlier.

Despite the 7-cent fall in German pig prices, thanks to the currency fluctuations, cull sow quotes have moved up by around 1p with most traded between 120p-125p according to load size.

However, with Easter on the horizon just over two weeks away, producers would be well advised to keep on top of their culls and slaughter weight pigs.

Weaner prices have eased back to some extent from last week’s quotes, with the latest AHDB 7kg ex-farm average quoted at £42.25/head, but no new quotation has yet been issued for 30kg weaners which last week averaged £61.95/head.

Despite the prospect of reasonably firm finished pig prices in the weeks ahead, a shortage of rearing and finishing space is still putting downward pressure on this sector.

Feed prices remain volatile mainly due to currency fluctuations, with the result that UK feed wheat futures prices for April have risen again to stand at £166/t with September even dearer at £174/t.

The same upward trend is reflected in barley quotes with April at £139/t and September at £147/t.

UK ex-farm feed wheat spot prices are also continuing to rise, quoted at £150.30/t.

Protein prices have taken an even bigger upward step, with UK Hipro soya quoted for April delivery at £366/t and for November/April 2021 at £329/t.

And finally, one possible benefit of the coronavirus epidemic is that, although many catering establishments have either closed or are operating at well below capacity, orders for catering meat have collapsed with the benefit being passed to the retailers and fresh meat customers looking to eat at home.

The other side of the coin are the fears that abattoirs, hauliers and meat processors may become short staffed if workplace employee levels continue to rise in the weeks ahead.

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About The Author

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