You Can’t Always Get What You Want

A difficult week for sellers with more of the same to come and, although the latest SPP has only fallen by 0.17p to stand at 160.94p, bigger falls have been experienced throughout the rest of the EU following the news last week that 5 cases of ASF have been confirmed in Germany, and the impact this is having on other sectors of the trade.

At least German pig prices have stood on following their massive 20 cent fall a week ago but the effect of this is still being felt throughout the trade now that the Chinese bamboo curtain is closed to any exports from Germany.

On the plus side the latest ASF situation should provide export opportunities for the UK providing we do not catch the virus too and can compete with lower global pig prices than our own.

Weekly UK contribution prices are under pressure, although it is hoped that in the main these will hold at last week’s levels, between 148p and 155p, although some have slipped by 1p.

The spot market is virtually non-existent with plenty of pigs looking for homes, most of which are completely full, but there have been reports of non-Farm Assured spot bacon selling at below 150p, although regular senders with Farm Assured pigs to sell have generally been getting at or close to 150p, space permitting.

The real shock drop this week has been the collapse of sow prices due to the German ASF outbreak. Prices are back by 10p/kg and, as a result most, are only trading in the 45p/kg region meaning that the average sow is worth little more than £60 per head, ie three sows to buy one gilt! The situation has not been helped by a fall in the value of the Euro which traded at 91.35p today, compared today with 92.86p a week ago.

Weaner prices are still reflecting significant uncertainty in the pigmeat market across the board, coupled with rising feed costs, with the latest AHDB (Animal & Plant Health Agency) 30kg average ex-farm value dropping from its last quotation of £61.71 to £52.69, although the 7kg price fared somewhat better, averaging £43.45 in something of a roller coaster market. But the main talking point has been the lack of any spare rearing/finishing space in the system with several large loads of non-contract 7kg piglets still looking for homes in an over-supplied market.

More pain on the feed front as far as pig producers are concerned, with the latest UK futures prices continuing to rise and October feed wheat traded at £181, but September ’21 is looking better value at £153/t. UK feed barley futures saw deals done in the £140/t region for October and spot loads of ex-farm feed wheat have been in the £170/t region which is a far cry from £143/t at the start of the year.

Protein values are also causing more financial discomfort amongst pig producers with Hipro soya quoted on the UK market at £346/t for October-April ’21 with £323/t for May-October ’21.

And finally, following the shock disclosure last week of ASF in Germany, more attention has been drawn to the need for the UK pig industry to try at all costs to avoid this plague heading any further west.

However, reports of large volumes of unsold German pigmeat being hocked around the UK have hit domestic prices hard but at the same time, greater attention needs to be given to ensure that no pigmeat imports are received into the UK from any countries where ASF has been detected. But in the chaotic situation that could follow the Brexit breakup, it may be difficult for thorough veterinary and source of origin tests to be effectively carried out in this country to protect UK pig health.

Good to note however that the APHA are looking for participants to share in a new EU funded study of the cost effectiveness of biosecurity on pig farms and we can only hope that this will be followed up by further funding when we are no longer in the EU which is not long now!

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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