Paint It Black

 Although domestic pig prices are generally in or around last week’s levels, they are still way out of line with soaring feed costs and cheap pig meat imports from the EU and elsewhere.

The SPP was up by a gnat’s whisker of 0.15p to stand at 144.31p but the general trend is that supply continues to exceed demand, especially with the prospect of extra pigs being brought forward before Christmas,

Weekly contribution prices have in the main held at least week’s levels of between 130p and 139p, but a chill wind continues to blow through the spot market with space just as scarce as ever and prices either side of 120p/kg.

Cull sow values are also clinging on by their fingertips, albeit at a very low level, with volumes affected by Covid outbreaks across much of Europe hitting staffing levels at meat processing plants and prices in and around 25p/kg.

A slight wobble on the value of the Pound has at least helped to put up the Euro from 83.9p last week to 84.6p today meaning that pig meat imports are marginally more expensive in currency terms and for those cull sows that can be shifted, but large numbers are currently being rolled.

The weaner market reflects all the negative challenges being posed by feed costs, lack of space and producers’ morale and although weaner contracts tied to the SPP are continuing to decline, they bear no comparison with some of the rock bottom price levels for spot weaners which in many cases still remain hard to shift.

Soaring feed prices remain the major talking point for the whole of the livestock industry with the latest UK futures prices indicating feed wheat values for December delivery of £232/t and for September next year £206/t.
UK spot feed wheat prices have shot up by £14/t in the last seven days and the latest average ex farm price has hit £232.90/t.

A roaring bull market saw feed barley quoted for December at £215/t and September 2022 at £192/t.
Ingredient costs for proteins are also shooting up with Hipro soya traded at £388/t for December and £348/t for May-October next year.

Rapemeal is following this upward trend at £311/t for December and £225/t for August – October 2022.

And finally, although it is difficult to find many positive factors on what is known as Black Friday (which must to many in the pig industry seem like just another black day), the ongoing scourge of ASF continues to carve a big hole in pig meat supplies especially in China, Vietnam and the Philippines and in some cases more than 40% of productive pigs are being wiped out.

This will inevitably open up a ‘black hole’ in supplies which could in the longer term benefit global pig meat values, although the UK still has the problem of competing with cheaper exports to the Far East from other suppliers with the UK SPP still much higher than many other producer countries, but still nowhere near enough to put our producers’ bank balances back into the black.

However, on the basis that every cloud has a silver lining, Chinese pig prices are reported to be up by 50% on recent lows.

With the added problems caused by Covid casting another black cloud in the horizon there are still unfortunately many more trials than tribulations to be faced in the months ahead before some form of return to viable trading levels, which some industry sources are suggesting might start to emerge in the second quarter of next year for those who can hold their breath for that long.

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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: