Peter Crichton’s commentary for April 1, 2016

Further signs are emerging of something of a recovery in UK pig prices, but we still have a long way to go before producers can start to breathe more comfortably when they see their bank manager.

The SPP staged a modest rise this week, moving up by 0.74p to stand at 112.81p. But, before we get too carried away, this time last year it was worth 132.64p, which is a difference of almost 20p/kg – or £16.50 for an average bacon pig.

Several of the larger contract abattoirs increased their weekly contribution prices by about 2p/kg, although spot bacon quotes in the 108 to 112p/kg region have yet to completely catch up with the contracts, but the availability of non-contract loads of spot bacon may soon tighten according to recent reports.

Another positive note is the ongoing rally in the value of the euro, which traded on Friday afternoon worth 80.14p, up on the week by around 1.3%, but this did nothing to improve cull sow prices which tended to reflect falls of 3c in German pig prices and, as a result, the two main export sow abattoirs were bidding at stand-on levels, but prepared to take reasonable numbers with their quotes mainly between 55 to 58p/kg.

There is still no shaft of sunlight as far as the weaner market is concerned, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm average quoted at £36.96/head and 7kg weaners at £28.82/head.

Any further improvements in finisher prices would work wonders as far as weaner values are concerned, which are still well below cost of production levels, although wide gaps remain between spot and contract weaner quotes, not helped by a lack of spot weaner buyers.

Feed wheat prices have held at generally similar levels on the futures market, with May feed wheat quoted at £104.75/t. November was looking a shade firmer at £118.25/t.

However, in the absence of any signs of a real lift in prices, most pig producers are tending to buy from month to month, unless they have already made earlier deals.

US stocks of soya beans, wheat and maize have all increased on a 12-month basis, according to the most recent USDA reports, which may help to keep a lid on any unwelcome price rises as far as pig producers are concerned in the weeks ahead . . . we’ll see.

And finally, a little more good news with reports that global pig prices are staging a modest recovery, although this is far from universal, with China and the Far East leading the way, but Europe still remains in the doldrums to some extent.

And finally finally, farewell from me to Ronnie “four candles” Corbett. RIP.

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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: