Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

The latest SPP has continued has continued to recover from the dark days of spring 2016 when it stood at a mere 112p.

It is now valued at 50p/kg more, which is worth up to £40 per bacon pig sold, but two wrongs don’t make a right, although UK pig prices now appear to be following the continental trend of levelling out but at a much more realistic and profitable level for producers.

Spot bacon supplies are rather like a Scottish jockey: tight and short, and where there were any significant numbers traded, they tended to be in the 170p-173p/kg range according to spec.

Weekly contribution prices also took an unexpected lift with one of the main operators increasing their price by 5p/kg to 170p/kg, but most tended to be between 160p-168p/kg.

Although the value of the Euro has remained virtually unchanged, trading on Friday afternoon worth 88.09p, unfortunately cull sow prices took a klopfen (German for knock) coming back by 4p, mainly due to reduced demand across northern Europe as the holiday season approaches. As a result, UK cull sow quotes tended to be in or around 100p/kg according to load size although, fortunately, German pig prices did not follow the same route and stood on for the fourth week running.

Weaner prices remain firm, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm average quoted at £60.25/head and the 7kg weaner average of £44.37/head, confirming that, in general terms, the gap between 7kg and 30kg weaners tends to be around £15/head. If sellers were lucky enough to have spare spot weaners to sell, they were able to obtain prices at £2-£4 above contract in many cases.

Cereal and feed prices have remained at generally similar levels, with UK spot wheat quoted on an ex-farm basis at £142.20/t. Futures prices ended the week on a slightly firmer note, with July feed wheat quoted on the LIFFE market at £143.40/t, November looking firmer at £148/t and March 2018 at £151.40/t.

UK protein prices eased a touch in the third week of June, with 48% Brazilian soyameal ex-Liverpool traded at £285/t and 34% rapemeal ex-Earith at £177/t.

Straw in demand

However, straw values may become more of a talking point than cereals if present trends continue, with demand from energy plants outstripping supplies and talk of some straw going up in smoke at £55/t, which has certainly raised the bar as far as outdoor and Freedom Food pig producers’ straw costs are concerned.

With the UK harvest only a few weeks away, markets have very much focused on this and what it will mean in terms of supply and demand. Initial reports are indicating the UK is heading for a good, but possibly not bumper harvest, depending of course on the weather which has recently been changeable to say the least.

And finally, on a cautionary note, high pig prices will do nothing to keep disease at bay and the spread of African swine fever has been underlined by the first outbreak in the Czech Republic, confirming the further spread of the virus in Eastern Europe.

Samples were found in wild boar and the same could happen here if feral pigs become yet more plentiful, coupled with signs that ASF continues to spread west, which puts us in the firing line.

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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: www.petercrichton.co.uk