Although the SPP has put on another 0.29p to stand at 164.93p, pig traders are reflecting a note of caution with price challenges in the air due to COVID-19 implications affecting the throughput of pig meat in Europe and the UK.
Weekly contribution prices are generally holding at similar levels between 155p and 166p and it will come as no surprise if these drop in the weeks ahead, reflecting a slight easing in demand for parts of the pig, with shoulders particularly hard to sell but bellies have remained firm, unlike many of the human ones around the Nations barbecues!
The spot market remains extremely quiet with the majority of buyers and sellers on contract and spot prices have generally been in and around the 168p – 170p/kg mark.
Cull sows are under increasing pressure due to a number of EU processing plants either handling reduced throughputs or being out of action while remedial work is carried out to comply with Covid-19 rules. Cull sow prices have continued to fall with price forecasts between 60p-65p/kg, due to limited space for exports to Europe.
On the plus side, the Euro has continued to improve in value against a weakening Pound trading at 90.46p on Friday compared with 90.31p seven days earlier and in the words of a certain supermarket, “every little helps”.
Weaner prices are also coming under downward pressure with the latest AHDB 7kg ex farm average down by £1.43 to £41.57/head and 30kg weaners averaging £59.79/head.
Markets dislike uncertainty and weaner buyers are tending to exercise a certain amount of caution as they ask their crystal balls what finished pig prices are likely to be in autumn.
Feed prices are tending easier in some sectors with reports of fairly good quality crops of French winter barley soon to be harvested and US harvest outlooks and yields are better than anticipated helped by a stronger Dollar.
UK feed wheat futures were traded at £166/t for September and barley at £134/t for the same month.
Hi-pro soya meal is holding at similar levels with August – October at £301/t and May – October 2021 at £301/t.
And finally, winds of change may affect the UK pig industry in the months ahead and these include the need for a Brexit deal to be reached rather than a ‘no deal’ situation, with only six months to go before the end of the transition period.
Exports to China are also coming under closer scrutiny as far as any collateral damage caused by the COVID situation is concerned, as well as the need for abattoirs and meat processing plants to meet working distance and other biosecurity rules as part of an attempt to improve worker health & safety in meat plants, where the current virus seems to flourish.