Win, lose or draw

Unfortunately, UK pig prices are continuing on their downward track with the SPP easing by another .58p and dropping to 140.02p which is its lowest point since September 2016. The German producer price has however remained at the same level since 10th October of €1.36 (122.7p) and although some comfort can be gained from hearing that EU mainland prices are holding steady, they are still far too low for us to compete with.

Weekly contribution prices have generally stayed at similar levels with most in a fairly wide (and disappointing) range from 127.5p to 133p which is still well out of step with the SPP at over 140p.

The spot market continues to suffer from lack of demand rather than too many pigs with legs particularly hard to sell and very little available spot space other than at eye wateringly low prices, with reports of one-off spot trades around the 130p mark but regular sellers were generally able to earn 4p-6p above this.

Cull sow prices remain at bargain basement levels (if you are buyer) with most export quotes standing on in the 56p – 60p range despite a modest rise in the value of the Euro which traded on Friday worth 90.24p compared with 90p the previous week, but for those producers forced to cut back or clear their herds, cull returns of around £80 per sow will do little to make a significant impression on their overdrafts.

The latest AHDB weaner averages rose on the week with the 30kg average up £2.80/head to £47.34 and the 7kg average up .45p/head to £36.07.

However, the weaner market still remains very much a case of “no-mans’ land” as far as Red Tractor spot weaners are concerned with very few buyers looking for pigs and as a result discounts in this sector of £4-£6 below AHDB averages have applied.

Grain prices rallied slightly last week with spot wheat ex farm averages around the £172 mark, up by £2 on the week and futures prices have remained firm with London feed wheat quoted at £172.80 for January and £177.75 for March. Proteins are also nudging dearer with UK 48% soya rising by £3/t to £320/t and 34% rape meal around the £210/t mark.

And finally. Farmers’ buttocks will be tightly clenched as D-Day (defeat) looms on the Parliamentary vote this Wednesday where MPs are giving a final vote on the EU Withdrawal Agreement and we may well soon know who the winners and losers are.

Fears remain however of the effect on the pig industry a “no deal” situation might create with potential tariffs on our pig meat and other exports and the possibility of cheaper tariff free imports which would help our Government (whoever they may be) to keep down inflation and provide a “cheap food” bonus to the electorate.

In the meantime, NPA members have been contacting their MPs to remind them of the potentially disastrous effect that a “no deal” result could have on the industry as a whole and all we can do to is to hope that common sense prevails and the Withdrawal Agreement proceeds rather than the UK being served with a red card!

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