Don’t Bring Me Down

Although it was good to see the SPP move ahead by another 0.78p to stand at 160.66p, signs are that this could be the last upward movement for a while.

The influential German producer price has remained stand on at €1.42/kg, equivalent to 122p net of haulage and slaughter deductions most of which are paid by the abattoirs, unlike here in the UK!

Weekly contribution prices are also coming under pressure and although one of the leading players stood on at 163p, others were lagging well behind in the 143p region.

One of the many black clouds on the horizon is that monthly contribution prices may take a sharp fall when announced in a few days’ time.

The spot market is not for the faint hearted and although regular sellers have been able to achieve some deals in the 145p – 150p/kg mark, pigs looking for homes on a one off basis are worth little more than 140p/kg even supposing that any space could be found, which is virtually non-existent following the drop in UK abattoir throughputs of up to 25%, due to labour shortages and Covid.

The value of the Euro has seen little change over the past 7 days trading on Friday worth 85.6p.

Export cull sow prices have covered a fairly wide range with some as low as 55p/kg with the bulk in and around 60p/kg.

This provides a very poor level of values with a number of herds are now being slaughtered as some producers have been unable to remain solvent with COP levels well ahead of pig meat prices.

Although weaner prices look relatively firm for contract sellers, if the backlog of finished pigs in the system continues this will soon affect weaner space and it may be difficult for spot weaner sellers in particular to find any bidders let alone homes for pigs in this category.

With harvest starting in parts of the country, early reports are that winter barley straw yields are better than expected, but there is a long way to go before all is safely gathered in.

The cost of feed ingredients remains out of step with profitability levels and relatively bullish futures prices, which saw July feed wheat traded at £204/t and September at £174/t.

Spot feed wheat deals on an ex farm basis have averaged £198.70/t.

Feed barley looks slightly better value with August deliveries quoted at £158/t.

Proteins remain expensive with August – October Hipro soya at £365/t and May-October 2022 at £348/t.

Rapemeal has held at £232/t for August – October.

And finally, a lethal cocktail of staff shortages is hitting the industry from the cradle to the grave and some of the consequences of the wisdom of our departure from Europe are coming home to roost.

Large numbers of workers from all industries have returned to their countries of origin and there is now a massive shortage of skilled and unskilled labour as well as more than 600,000 people per week going into isolation because of Covid.

Meat processors are also reporting very high levels of absenteeism and are short of qualified drivers.

All this has led to large numbers of pigs being ‘rolled’ with weights going over their upper limits, higher back fat measurements and eye watering feed costs with anxious bank managers on the doorstep.

The irony is that while production levels are in the red there are also many empty shelves in the supermarkets, which could easily be filled if migrant workers were encouraged to stay rather than leave when Brexit was under consideration in the first place.

Perhaps some of the brave souls heading this way across the Channel in rubber dinghies would be pleased to lend a hand?

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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: