Time to say farewell to the old year and await the new one with baited breath as far as Brexit is concerned.
Meanwhile, UK pig prices are continuing to come under a certain amount of pressure with the most recent SPP issued on December 23 standing at 148.49p compared with its value of 162p at the start of the year.
The latest available German producer price is quoted at 1.19 EUR, which is equivalent to little more than 108p/kg and continues to undercut the UK market by a country mile.
Although most processors have emerged from the Christmas/New Year holiday period without have too much stock in the system, weekly contribution prices have slipped in places and others have stood on between 134p – 136p.
Spot demand is more or less non-existent with the majority of pigs being sold on contract and very little space in the system with reports of spot prices as low as 120p/kg in places, although regular sellers should be able to achieve a little more than this.
The Covid situation is doing nothing to help, especially as far as staffing levels at abattoirs and processing plants are concerned and although most of the larger players have been able to re-jig their working space and other systems, a shortage of skilled labour hit by the virus in this sector can have an adverse effect on abattoir efficiency and throughput.
Although the UK pig industry has achieved ‘third country’ listing to allow tariff free meat exports to the EU, reports are emerging that only a relatively small percentage of hauliers are ready to handle the appropriate paperwork and systems as the Brexit transition period comes to a close.
A potential shortage of vets may also put further pressure on the workload and paperwork required to deal with future meat exports.
Although cull sows were trading in the 40p/kg region before the Christmas break, since then this sector of the industry is now in unchartered waters and it may still be some while before normal service is resumed.
The value of the Euro, which traded on Friday worth 89.99p has remained at similar levels but as far as meat imports/exports are concerned, the stronger the Euro the better.
Weaner prices keep heading south following the ongoing slide in the value of the SPP index price and the most recent AHDB 7kg weaner price is quoted at £39.29/head.
Recent wet weather and shortages of straw continue to hit margins which are already suffering from soaring feed costs.
UK futures prices remain bullish with January feed wheat quoted at £204/t and September UK spot wheat trades have been reported in the £187.50/t range on an ex farm basis.
Protein values have continued to climb with Hi Pro soya traded at £418/t for January and a slightly easier £383/t for the June-October period.
And finally some good news on the vaccination front, not only have vaccines been developed to beat the scourge of Covid as far as humans are concerned, in the four legged department there are encouraging reports that Vietnam is developing a vaccine against African Swine Fever at a time when intensive restocking of the Asian market is taking place. Fingers and trotters crossed!