Peter Crichton’s commentary for October 25, 2013

With only eight clear slaughtering weeks left between now and Christmas, some processors are already talking about Saturday kills, but it remains to be seen if there will be enough pigs to go round at a time when retail demand normally improves.

Tulip left its weekly price unchanged at 168p for the ninth week running, and Gills also stood on at a more realistic 172p, almost matching the DAPP at 172.04p.

Spot bacon prices have also remained at similar levels, but a feature of the trade was the fact that every pig that was offered for sale found a home and was generally traded in the 174-176p/kg range.

European mainland pigmeat prices are, however, reported to be meeting some resistance in the face of reduced exports to China and Russia, and if this trend continues we could see larger volumes heading this way at a discount.

The euro closed the week a shade firmer trading at 85.34p on Friday compared with 84.5p a week ago, and cull sow buyers were operating at positive stand-on levels with most quotes in the 116-119p/kg range according to spec. More could easily have been sold, although this may not be the case if, as reported above, EU mainland pigmeat prices take a knock.

Weaner prices continue on a plateau, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm weaner average quoted at £54.25/head. With the relatively static grain market and bacon pigs now netting in the £125-130/head region, finishers can earn good margins, but finishing space is short and remains at a premium.

Grain futures prices have remained at similar levels to last week, with November wheat traded at £165.45/t and May 2014 at £170.50/t. Spot wheat is currently changing hands at £155.70/t, although French grain prices have shown recent gains to hit €200/t.

The risk of hot dry weather in the Southern Hemisphere may put a few more bulls into the cereal market as the Australian wheat crop enters the harvest phase, and the return of USDA data may also see some price corrections on world markets with the resumption of more accurate crop information.

All in all, however, providing there are no unexpected shock horror pig industry problems in the months ahead, most producers should now be in the black. 

Hopefully opportunities will arise for refurbishment or even possibly replacement of worn out rearing and finishing accommodation, which in many cases is reaching the end of its useful life (like some of us).

> Suffolk-based Peter Crichton is an auctioneer 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: www.petercrichton.co.uk

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