Unfortunately pig prices are in many cases continuing their downward track with the latest SPP losing a further 0.36p to stand at 143.57p although German prices have actually stood on for six weeks running at €1.36, but this is only equivalent to a miserly 120p/kg in our money.
Very few extra pigs seem to be wanted and contract spaces remain tight and although most of the larger abattoirs held their contribution prices at similar levels, these were in most cases well below COP figures.
Although now is the time for buyers to start putting forward extra numbers to cover the Christmas/New Year shut down, there seems to be very little appetite for extra pigs at present which could lead to a significant backlog building up over the festive period and beyond.
With a relatively small number of spot pigs, traded prices tended to be in the 134-138p range although regular sellers have been able to negotiate premiums over and above this level.
Renewed hopes that Brexit arrangements might be back on track saw the pound rally over the last few days but the value of the euro at noon on Friday of 88.45p was much the same as it was seven days earlier.
European cull sow values have remained generally unchanged with the result that UK export sow buyers were bidding in the 60-64p range compared with 72p/kg a year ago but according to EU mainland pig meat trading reports, volumes are still high and demand remains under pressure.
The UK weaner market is not for the faint hearted with the latest AHDB 7kg ex farm weaner average continuing to drift and now stands at £35.31 compared with £42.02 a year ago.
Unfortunately, there was no AHDB 30kg average quoted again this week but Red Tractor spot 30kg pigs are reported to be trading at a significant discount in some cases worth little more than their 7kg counterparts.
UK protein prices have also unfortunately hardened over the past week with 48% soya traded ex Liverpool at £320/t and 34% rape meal ex Kent at £214/t. Cereal prices on the London futures exchange have however, shown little variation over the week with February feed wheat quoted at £169.50/t and May at £173.25/t.
Uncertainty over Brexit continues to dominate domestic cereal markets although by the end of the week positions were little changed.
And finally, despite all the worries facing the industry, thank you very much to all the organisers and sponsors of the National Pig Awards which took place at the Lancaster Hotel in London on Monday evening, where more than 400 of the good, the bad and the ugly were able to let their hair down (assuming they had some) and forget all the worries and cares of pig production until Tuesday morning.
A big thank you, however, to all the organisers for putting together a glittering event.