Red Sails in the Sunset

The SPP has ended the year with more of a whimper than a bang, up by a mere 0.01p to 141.82p compared with the EU average producer price of only around 107p, which continues to emphasise the price advantage that pork imports have over UK values, which now comprise approximately 60% of UK consumption.

UK weekly contribution prices have in the main continued to reflect recent (low) levels at between 130p – 138p but are better than spot prices which still seem to be heading for no man’s land with prices as low as 114p/kg quoted in some regions, although in many cases a touch more than this for regular sellers, space permitting.

Overweight pigs remain virtually homeless and with Omicron virus infections soaring, absenteeism is reducing throughputs in some abattoirs and processing plants adding to yet more Christmas rollover numbers building up for pigs stuck in the system, so wishes for a happy New Year may be premature.

Cull sow prices remain stuck in a very deep rut and are generally between 24p – 26p/kg and with herd culls taking place, larger numbers will soon be hitting the market.

Weaner values also continue to slide with this week’s AHDB 7kg average of £32.97/head for those sellers with contracts locked away in a safe place, but one off spot loads are hard to place at any price.

Feed prices continue to add yet more red ink to producers’ bank balances with the latest UK spot feed wheat price of £219/t.

UK grain futures are also stepping up the pressure with January 2022 feed wheat up from £220/t a week ago to £229/t today and September 2022 also dearer at £203/t.

Feed barley futures now stand at £214/t for January 2022 and £188/t (ish) for September 2022.

Even more grief as far as proteins are concerned with warm and dry weather in South America unleashing the bulls and January 2022 Hipro soya has rocketed up from £409/t to £432/t in seven days and January 2022 rapemeal is now quoted in the £316/t region.

And finally, back to the future with the following red light numbers over the past twelve months and signs are emerging that for pig producers to remain viable and try and patch up the holes in their bank balances, future COP levels will need to be in the 200p/kg deadweight region.

                                                 January 2021  December 2021

SPP                                          147.34p           141.82p

EU Reference Price                 116p                107p

AHDB 7kg Average                  £38.52             £32.97

Cull Sow Base Price                 58p                  23.5p

Feed Wheat ex farm               £201                 £219

€                                              89p                  84.6p

However, industry sources are indicating that while the yawning gulf between UK and EU values remains, pig meat imports will remain public enemy number one until this imbalance is rectified.

In the meantime, sadly more pig producers may be switching off all the lights in the New Year and for those who remain the ever present risk of ASF cannot be ignored.

To summarise 2021 has been a pig of a year but in the words of Monty Python, ‘always look on the bright side of life!’

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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