Hard Times

In horse racing terms the going in the pig market could be described as ‘heavy’ with Covid continuing to have an impact on the pig numbers that abattoirs and processors can cope with and, at the same time, following all the rules but the pig chain keeps moving albeit in some cases at not much more than 50% of capacity.

The latest SPP continues on its downward track, dropping by 0.47p to 156.14p although the German pig price is reported to be holding for now at 1.27 EUR for the 7th week in succession, but this is only equivalent to little more than 114p in our money.

A lethal combination of falling prices and increasing supplies is continuing to drive values down at a time of year when numbers are normally being brought forward for Christmas but with current shortage of space throughout the industry, pig weights are continuing to rise with the SPP average weight at a record 87.19kg this week.

Weekly contribution prices are continuing to ease by around 2p on the week between 143p – 148p in the main.

Spot trade is reported to be virtually non-existent with very little space available for one-off bacon pigs, although regular sellers might be looking at prices around 140p mark but below this is something of a cold wilderness.

The Euro is currently trading at 90.27p and shows very little change over the last seven days, but if news of a Brexit deal filters though this could add value to the £ making foreign imports to the UK cheaper and unfortunately also hitting the value of our cull sow exports which currently needs all the help they can get.

Sow prices have remained at rock bottom levels with reports of a significant backlog of sow meat in Europe continuing to put a lid on any price recovery.

UK cull sow values remain in the 45p region or little more than £60 per sow in nett terms and those with longer memories may well recall that over 20 years ago it was possible to sell cull sows in the £150-£200 price range and today’s prices have dropped by over 60% since the “good old days”

Weaners remain a buyers’ market, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm average down by £1.36 to £52.87 and the 7kg average has slipped below £40 to £39.97.

Feed ingredients remain expensive although they are to the relief of pig farmers, starting to level out with UK feed wheat for December quoted at £194/t and up by £2 on the week and September 2021 traded at £160/t.

UK feed barley has been traded for December at £150/t (delivered) while spot wheat ex-farm values were quoted in and around £182/t

Proteins remain dear, with Hipro soya traded at £399/t for December-January, with a slightly more bearable £351/t for June-October next year.

And finally, the current sideshow of the American Presidential ‘Election’ should not however divert pig producers from keeping a very close eye on the Brexit (remember that?) situation.

Transport companies are already issuing warnings about potential logistics difficulties that may arise in connection with the import/export of all types of products including pig meat and although MPs have rejected the Agriculture Bill Amendment on import standards, they have agreed to ‘greater scrutiny of trade deals’ whatever that may mean will apply.

How this will be policed however is yet to be disclosed but there are enough disruptions to the supply chain already without any further Brexit related complications looming on the horizon and the last thing the UK pig industry can cope with at present is cheap US pork ‘under priced and over here’!

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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