Back To December

Another ‘curate’s egg’ (good in parts) year draws to a close with the SPP slipping again by 0.42p to stand at 151p which almost exactly matches its value at the start of the year of 151.8p.

Spot prices have however, taken something more of a hammering in what is described as ‘a very quiet’ fresh meat market and what bids that there were for one off spot loads were in the 138p-140p region, although regular sellers could generally achieve premiums of 4-6p above this.

Weekly contribution prices generally stayed at similar levels in the 143p region but, with plenty of pigs about and falling prices in mainland Europe, it looks as though supply will continue to exceed demand for the early part of 2018. Historically pig prices have often bottomed out and started to climb in March……..we shall see.

Meat traders are commenting on how difficult it is to compete with cheaper foreign imports and another 3 cent fall in the German price which started the year worth 1.62 EUR compared with its current value of 1.37 EUR, underlines the negative values seen across the global pig market in the last 6 months.

Looking on the bright side, however, producers will lose less money in February because it is a shorter month!

The value of the Euro improved from 88.14p a week ago to 88.6p on Friday at noon, but unfortunately this did not add enough festive cheer for either of the two major cull sow abattoirs to put their prices up. Bids in the 64-66p bracket, compared with 90p plus a year ago meant that the average sow is worth little more than £80 after deductions and it now takes at least two sows to replace the value of one maiden gilt.

A two-tier weaner price is emerging and, although Freedom Food weaners sold on contract are still making respectable money, the latest AHDB 30kg average dropped by a significant £4.80/head to average £51.61, although the 7kg price has held at similar levels to average £40.62. But the old ‘fag packet’ rule of 30kg weaners being worth £15 a head more than their 7kg counterparts seems to have gone out of the window for the time being. The spot weaner market is not for the faint hearted as far as Red Tractor pigs are concerned, with buyers remaining extremely cautious until they have worked out which way finisher prices are likely to move early next year.

Grain prices saw a slight weekly decline in global values and oilseed futures prices also eased following bearish news on the European rapeseed and US soya bean markets. UK spot feed wheat traded at an average of £135.80/t ex-farm.

UK feed wheat futures also closed little changed with January quoted at £137.80/t, March £141.25/t and longer months such as November 2018 at £142.35/t. UK protein prices also ended the week little changed with 15th December 48% soya meal ex Liverpool little changed at £315/t and 34% rape meal ex-Kent also static at £165/t.

And finally some better news on the retail front with reports that sales of pork loin medallions which have been advertised on prime TV had increased by 27% over the same period last year and according to analysts, total sales of all fresh pork rose by 3% in the 12 weeks up to early November.

Providing recent falls in finished pig prices level out and feed costs stay where they are, 2018 may not be quite as difficult a trading year as some were predicting, once the Christmas/New Year backlog of pigs has been cleared, trotters and fingers crossed.


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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: