The Show Must Go On

Prices have generally remained at similar levels on the week, although the recent rise in the value of the pound has put something of a cat among the pigeons as far as pig meat imports and exports are concerned.

The latest SPP moved up by a modest 0.24p and now stands at 163.39p and follows on the ‘stand on’ trend seen with weekly contribution prices, which have now mainly remained unaltered since early December with most quoted between 155p and 163p /kg according to spec,

The spot market also has been extremely quiet with most pigs being sold on contract, but staff shortages are starting to bite as far as some of the major abattoirs are concerned due to the difficulties in complying with social distancing space requirements under the COVID-19 rules, as well as a rising shortage of skilled staff throughout the processing sector.

Spot bacon generally traded in and around the 165p/kg region, but some lower quotations than this were heard later on in the day.

Although German pig prices have remained largely static, a surge in the value of the GBP led to a cut of 3p/kg in cull sow values with most culls trading in 116p – 120p/kg range according to load size, with the Euro losing value and falling from 89.74p a week ago to 87.77p on Friday noon.

According to the latest AHDB statistics, the 30kg ex farm weaner average has perked up significantly and was quoted at £61.72/head and the value of 7kg ex-farm weaners was also marginally firmer and quoted at £42.68/head.

Most weaners found new homes but still an air of unease amongst some fatteners as far as their views of the finished value of pigs is concerned in the months ahead.

Feed values remain very much influenced by currency markets with UK feed wheat futures trading at £159/t for May and £166/t for September. Barley deals were struck around the £137/t mark for May and £138/t for September.

Protein values continue their rollercoaster ride with Hi-pro soya for May delivery trading at £354/t and for longer dates £314/t between November and April 2021.

UK pig farmers have welcomed the news that Red Tractor physical inspections of units can be replaced by ‘remote’ visits with the data audited by suitably trained farm staff.

Suggestions are coming forward to speed up the whole process whereby the farmer’s vet can sign off the paperwork rather than waiting for it to be verified by the Farm Assurance Scheme operators.

And finally, a reminder that producers should avoid the risk of getting their pigs too heavy, especially if due to labour shortages and for other reasons slaughter throughputs slow down which could well be the case, especially with the upcoming Bank Holidays to face.

This advice is backed up by recent reports of US pork futures prices falling to 45 Cents per pound from a high of 92 Cents per pound in October and the Chinese price is also reported to be down.

Producers should keep on top of their pigs, sometimes ‘less is more’ and hopefully the UK pig industry wheels will keep turning.

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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: