Although EU reference prices have remained at generally similar levels around the 108p/kg mark, pig values on this side of the Channel continue to ease with the SPP dropping 0.75p to stand at 143.56p.
Average weights are still rising underlining a growing backlog of heavy pigs in the system with the latest EU dressed carcass weight averaging 91.95kg.
Estimated slaughter numbers are 15,500 head higher than the same week last year, but only a restricted number of overweight pigs are finding homes.
UK weekly contribution prices have in some cases eased by a penny and other stood on and most are now between 130p and 138p with some abattoirs showing slightly more interest in pigs than they were a week ago.
Regular pigs sold on a spot basis remain in and around 118p – 125p/kg, but still virtually no space is available for one off loads with supply still continuing to exceed demand by a wide margin.
Cull sow prices are also continuing to paint a very bleak picture and remain in and around 25p/kg with Covid problems limiting processing volumes in the EU.
A weaker Pound has however lifted the value of the Euro to 85p which will help to some extent as far as the import/export balance is concerned.
Weaner pries remain under pressure due to the ongoing lack of space as well as the outlook for finished pig values looking forward and unsustainable feed costs, but those RSPCA assured producers with contracts are still able to receive prices within a fairly wide £34-£37/head range and with Red Tractor piglets on contract at a discount of £3-£5/head.
Spot weaners continue to be hard to place at any price adding to all the challenges currently being faced by pig producers up and down the land.
Although cereal prices eased a touch during the week, they are still at unsustainable levels with UK January feed wheat quoted on the futures market at £231/t and September 2022 at £205/t.
Ex farm spot feed wheat deals have averaged £217/t which represents a seven day drop of approximately £15/t, but without wishing to sound ungrateful producers are indicating that this is still way out of line from where they need to be.
Barley remains a sellers’ market with feed barely on the futures traded at £217/t for January 2022 and £191/t for September 2022.
Protein prices continue to cause concern with January 2022 Hipro soya quoted at £384/t and £349/t for May-October 2022. Rapemeal remains eye wateringly dear at £290/t for January 2022, but a slightly more reasonable £226/t for August- October 2022.
And finally, not only have producers had to cope with appalling weather conditions in the north and in Scotland, but the challenge to challenge to domestic pig prices continues to turn the screw with EU prices at least 30p/kg lower than in the UK. Until this gap can be closed, export opportunities to China will be hard to find, but many producers could soon lose the will to keep running.
Added to these challenges are reports from APHA who have updated their outbreak assessment of ASF in eastern Europe and Germany and are now indicating that this includes a move of further ASF into a new region in Germany with ASF hitting a 4,000-pig commercial farm as well as ongoing domestic pig and wild boar outbreaks; at the same time Poland, Romania and Russia are also reporting ASF outbreaks.
Yet another reason for the Government to step up restrictions on pig meat imports from suspect countries into the UK and the same applies to two legged travellers.