The Long and Winding Road

‘Black Friday’ appears to occur every Friday as far as pig sellers are concerned, with news that weekly contribution prices are continuing to slide, with up to 3p being knocked off this week’s quotation. 

Since mid-July, contribution prices have fallen from 166p to 136p which works out at £24 per pig. The SPP also continues to travel south but at a slightly more sedate rate than weekly prices, dropping by 1.87p this week, to stand at 152.02p compared with 158p a year ago, although at that stage, feed wheat was quoted at £137/t as against its current value of £185/t ex-farm.

Spot prices are also continuing to slide, like everything else apart from feed costs, with regular sellers able to achieve prices in the 130p/kg region, but those looking for one-off homes for spot pigs could be paid closer to 120p/kg (ouch!).

Despite a slight improvement in the value of the Euro, which traded today worth 90.35p compared with 89.44p a week ago, cull sow prices have stubbornly remained at stand-on levels in and around 40p/kg.

The weaner market will also inevitably follow the downward track of the SPP although the latest AHDB 7kg price of £39.56/head looks comparatively healthy, but all good things come to an end!

Weaner buyers are continuing to readjust their prices to allow for falling finished pig values and rising feed costs and it should come as no surprise to see weaner values continuing to ease in the weeks ahead, especially bearing in mind the lack of finishing space held up by a large number of finished pigs which have been rolled rather than sold.

However, feed prices are no higher than they were a week ago, with UK feed wheat traded for January at £196/t and September at £158/t with barley still at a significant discount at £154/t for January. Soya values have eased back a touch but are still plenty dear enough with Hipro soya traded for January-April at £381/t and for longer months, the June-October price is £359/t.

And finally, with the Brexit deadline date only a few weeks away there is still considerable uncertainty regarding the effects of on the pig industry.

According to reports, a ‘No Deal’ result could have a dramatic effect on UK pig meat prices at a time when the Chinese herd has made a significant recovery and statements have been issued indicating that the Chinese hope to be within 90% self-sufficient in pig meat in the months’ ahead.

If there is a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, the EU would regard the UK as a third country and impose tariffs on imports from the UK which could have a disastrous effect upon the value of cull sow meat in particular.

On the plus side, however, if tariffs are applied to pig meat entering the UK, this could have the effect of putting up domestic pig prices. On all fronts however, the UK pig industry appears to be between a rock and a hard place and a viable Brexit deal somehow needs to be achieved.

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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