In the land of the pig the butcher is king

Although pig prices remain under pressure, there was a slightly more of a “glass half full” feeling today especially with news that cull sow prices have moved ahead.

The latest SPP only eased by a mere 0.06p to stand at 137.43p and the influential German producer prices stood on at €1.40 (120p)

Weekly contribution prices also seem to be holding at similar levels with most between 125.5p and 129p but still lagging well behind spot quotes and the SPP.

Fresh meat wholesalers are however still reporting high street demand to be “fickle” or a word that sounds a bit like that but it still seems to be a case of poor demand rather than too many pigs.

Spot bacon remains fairly hard to clear with most buyers having enough pigs on contract without being tempted into the spot market but a few deals were done in the 128p-130p region.

One significant ray of sunshine was in the cull sow market where quotes were up by 3p/kg with most traded in or around the 64p-67p mark but still well adrift from where they should be, although the value of the euro has remained virtually unchanged at 85.75p, a weaker pound would come as a tonic to cull sow sellers where values still remain at bargain basement levels.

The weaner market saw the latest AHDB 7kg average price slip by £1.38 to £35.39 but no quotation due to an insufficient sample for 30kg and indications that this sector still remains very much a two-tier market with Red Tractor weaners at a significant discount.

However, with slightly cheaper feed costs some buyers are sounding a little more interested in filling empty pens than they were a few weeks ago, but only at relatively low prices.

Grain prices on the London futures market saw feed wheat in retreat with March traded at £157.65/t and November at £145.50/t.

UK protein prices are thankfully displaying a significant bearish trend at present which is good news as far as ration costs are concerned with 48% soya ex Liverpool quoted at £290/t compared with £324 at the end of the year and 34% rape meal also at easier prices trends ex Kent at £195/t as opposed to £233/t last August.

Trade tensions between Canada and China are one of the reasons why rape prices have fallen back and as China are the world’s largest importer of OSR any reductions in the volume and level of trade could be a welcome bonus for buyers (but not sellers). “Every little helps” in the words of one of our major supermarkets.

And finally the uncertainty caused by the Brexit situation continues, with some of the major players already looking at a likely “no deal” scenario and any form of levy applying to UK cull sow exports to the EU would hit prices even harder but hopes remain that similar tariffs could be imposed in pig meat imports hitting the UK…we shall see.

With less than a month to go until “B Day” the sooner some decisions are reached the better so that the British pig industry will have a better idea of the level of challenges they will have to face afterwards.

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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: