Back to The Future

A relatively quiet end to a fairly turbulent year with most index prices showing little variation with their pre-Christmas values.

Although the SPP put on a useful 1.15p last week to stand at its highest level of the year at 161.84p, fortunately the influential German producer price which had dropped eight cents in the week before Christmas has remained at similar levels, worth €1.95, which works out at 166p in our money.

Most weekly contribution prices have stayed at last week’s level with a range of values between 155p-163p.

UK bacon pigs have traded at similar levels on the week with retail sales still described as patchy with headline prices propped up by the ongoing export trade with China and the Far East due to Classical swine fever.

As a result, spot bacon quotes were generally in the 162-165p range with no real appetite for extra numbers and plenty of alternative forms of sustenance such as mince pies, Christmas pudding and turkey remnants still filling a hole.

Cull sow prices have followed the stand on trend of the European pig market as a whole with UK cull sow export buyers generally holding their prices between 112-118p according to load size, but hopefully prices will improve once the New Year holiday is over and normal service is resumed.

The value of the euro showed very little change with its latest quotation of 85.27p compared with 85.6p a week earlier and any further weakening in the value of the pound would be welcomed as far as pig meat imports and exports are concerned.

Weaner prices remain firm although finishing space is still at a premium with the latest AHDB 7kg average ex-farm value up by 20p to £41.80/head but there is still insufficient data for a AHDB 30kg average to be quoted, although reports have been received that these are in most cases changing hands (or trotters) at around the £55-£58 mark.

Feed values are continuing their stealthy rise with UK feed wheat futures prices of £154/t for January and £162/t for September and feed barley between £131-£137 for similar dates. Ex-farm UK feed wheat spot prices are averaging in the £142/t region

Protein values also hardened a touch with Jan-April ’20 Hipro soya meal worth £297/t and May-October ’20 £294/t.

And finally, as the year draws to a close this might be a good idea to review what has happened in the past 12 months and hope this might provide some clues for the future:

January 2019

  • SPP 140.6p
  • European Av Pig Price 116p
  • AHDB 30kg weaner £44.40p
  • AHDB 7kg weaner £35.62
  • Cull sow values 58p
  • UK feed wheat spot value £170.50/t
  • Euro 90p

December 2019

  • SPP 161.82p
  • European Av Pig Price 161.45p
  • AHDB 30kg weaner £56.50 (*estimated) £41.80
  • AHDB 7kg weaner £110p
  • Cull sow values £142.00/t
  • UK feed wheat spot value
  • Euro 85.6p

Some of the biggest fluctuations relate to sow value prices and the European pig price and a rally in the value of the British pound at the end of the year following the Brexit shenanigans, which may not yet be over.

The main talking point remains the dramatic spread of African swine fever which was first diagnosed in China in August 2018 and has since spread through over 20 neighbouring countries throughout much of the Far East and more uncomfortably, has also been diagnosed in wild boar in Belgium with other ASF outbreaks in former Eastern European regions.

ASF testing and bio-security vigilance on an international basis remains at varying levels, with Australia taking the whole situation very seriously despite all the other challenges they have to meet in terms of global warming and forest fires.

As far as the UK is concerned, it is imperative that bio-security levels for imported meat and any farm livestock heading this way are strengthened.

Closer to home, this epidemic comes at a time when domestic red meat sales are continuing to perform badly and this is yet another reason why our pig meat export trade remains vital for the health and survival of the pig industry.

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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