Be Careful What You Wish For

Despite increasing EU pig meat values, closer to home prices have remained at generally similar levels on the week, with the SPP fractionally easier dropping by 0.04p 139.41p.

This compares with the recent surge in the German pig meat price which has now levelled out, but over the past six weeks it has risen by no less than 31 Cents and now stands at 1.50 EUR, which in real money is equivalent to 127.5p deadweight and has closed the gap between EU and UK prices.

It remains to be seen when firmer EU prices actually filter through to the UK pig market, but weekly contribution prices have remained at similar levels today, with most between 130p – 133p.

The calendar reveals that Easter is just around the corner but hopefully this will not lead to any pigs being rolled.

With most pigs being sold under contract, spot bacon demand has remained at something of a discount when compared with the SPP and with reports of deals in and around 130p/kg, although regular sellers should be able to get a copper or two more.

After several weeks of rising values cull sow prices have levelled around 68p/kg but in school report terms “could do better”, especially when compared with cull sow values a year ago which were in the 120p/kg region.

A relatively strong Pound has done the industry no favours as far as import and export values are concerned with the Euro traded today worth 85.6p.

Demand for weaners continues to reflect finishers concerns over high feed prices as well as expensive straw and ongoing uncertainty over the value of finished pigs in months to come, but hopefully once lockdown restrictions have been eased this could generate better demand from the catering sector, especially with the prospect of BBQs firing up in a few weeks’ time.

There is no doubt however that the weaner sector remains a buyer’s market with an ongoing shortage of finishing space also putting margins under pressure.

Reports have been received of 7kg RSPCA Assured weaners trading in and around £35/head with their Red Tractor counterparts at a significant discount, but these prices have to be treated with a significant degree of caution because of the wide variations in contract terms.

Expensive feed remains the bugbear of the industry with COP levels much higher than pig meat values although there have been some signs of a slight easing in feed ingredient values, with futures trades of feed wheat for April delivery at £204/t compared with £212/t a week ago.

Barley values have also eased by around £3/t with April trading at £164/t.

The average ex farm spot price for feed wheat this week is of £196.3/t and with better crop establishment conditions this could help to boost harvest time yields, providing the rain is not followed by a drought!

Protein values have also eased falling from £372/t a week ago to £369/t for April delivery and the longer months showed Hipro soya deals done at £357/t for November – April 2022.

And finally, although news that African Swine Fever is still active in parts of China and this may help to lift global pig prices, the downside is that Germany has suffered from ASF outbreaks in their wild boar herd and this has implications for other neighbouring EU Countries.

Another risk is that the Government’s decision to delay Brexit import controls by six months might mean that ASF could spread into the UK if there are no new Brexit pig meat import controls in this country for another six months.

Ironically EU checks on exports from GB were operative from the 1st January 2021 and remain in place.

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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