Peter Crichton’s commentary for April 29, 2016

Although the SPP only moved up by 0.23p to stand at 113.49p, weekly contribution prices in some cases took more of a leap forward than a small stumble, rising by up to 3p/kg, with the result that most are now quoted in the 111p/kg to 115p/kg range.

So, bouquets to those abattoirs that reacted to last week’s comments about weekly announced prices as low as 108p by adding up to 3p this week!

Hopefully these higher prices will feed through to the SPP, which will help to lift the overall level of contract bacon prices from their current low levels and help to keep hard-pressed producers in business.

With most of the major contract buyers taking full numbers despite the short week ahead, there were very few spare pigs looking for homes on the spot market, with the result that spot bacon trended to trade at or around 112p, although shrewd sellers might have been able to coax a penny or two more than this in some cases.

Fresh meat wholesalers reported another relatively quiet week despite the upcoming Bank Holiday, and a return to better weather conditions would work wonders on this front for barbeques. The outlook for weekend weather is slightly better than predicted with some sunny spells, but remaining too chilly.

Sow prices unfortunately slipped back by 1p/kg, with the result that most were traded between 56p/kg to 59p/kg and although this price reduction was blamed on the euro, which on a seven-day basis is actually a shade firmer trading today worth 78.35p compared to 78.02p the week before. So, the “weak euro” suggestion doesn’t really work!

Weaner prices are reflecting slightly firmer trends, and with a number of herds now being culled, there’s no doubt that weaner supplies will get tighter in the months ahead. The latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm weaner average moved up from £35.67/head to £37.35/head during the past seven days, and the 7kg weaner price has also improved from £28.99/head to £29.58/head.

These prices are, however, still well behind most COP levels, but once again there’s a wide gap between Freedom Food and Red Tractor weaner values.

The cereal markets ended another relatively quiet week with ex-farm spot feed wheat traded at £101.60/t and futures prices very little changed. May wheat traded at £106.60/t, July at £108.20/t, but January 2017 is showing a much firmer trend and quoted at £122.50/t.

Protein prices are also trending firmer with April 26 Chicago soya bean prices for May 2016 closing up by $11.85 at $373.96. UK hi-pro soya for May delivery into east Coast ports was quoted at £294/t on April 22.

And finally, as part of an effort to try and revive a flagging British pig industry, livestock producers have told the AHDB that more of their levies should be spent on developing markets and promoting British food.

According to recent reports, the AHDB will now carry out a review of its overall strategy, and producers feel that more resources need to be made available to advertise the benefits, diversity and quality of British food as a whole.

In simple terms, “if you want to gather you have to give”.

Producers will have plenty of opportunities to buttonhole AHDB representatives at the upcoming Pig Fair on May 10/11, which is now little more than a week away.

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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: