Cull sow market ‘extremely difficult’ – TVC

The cull sow market remains ‘extremely difficult’, with animals backing up on farms, as the closure of a major plant in Germany continues to have a knock-on effect, according to Thames Valley Cambac.

The huge Tönnies processing plant, in Rheda, forced to shut down in June after more than 1,500 workers tested positive for COVID-19, remains closed after more three weeks, with no clear indication of when it will re-open. German pig industry organisation ISN said the closure cost the industry €20 million (£18m) last week alone. It said the ‘dramatic drop’ in the price of slaughter pigs of 19 cents since over the past fortnight is creating ‘unbearable economic misery’ for farms.

With some services in the city now opening it called on the authorities to ‘stop the delaying tactics’ and provide clarity on when the plant will re-open. “Every day the situation on the pig-keeping farms worsens, not only in the Gütersloh district, but throughout Germany,” it said.

In its latest market report, TVC said the impact was also continuing to be felt in the UK. “The cull sow market was extremely difficult, with minimal orders secured and pricing being a secondary concern. Culls are now backing up on farm, and there seems very little chance of early improvement.

“Our exporters are trying to be fair to all producers, and TVC will try and ensure we move as many culls as possible.”

TVC described European markets as ‘bleak, with pigs back logged on farm and prices in turmoil’. “Prices in Germany fell 13 cents (over the past week), no doubt Influenced by the continued closure of the Tonnies plant. Price quotes in sterling eroded further due to a weaker Euro that ended the week down 0.55p at 89.57p,” TVC said.

The overall market situation in the UK remains more stable, however. Contract price contributions stood on, but the SPP improved again, up 0.2p to 165.50p.

Demand was similar last week, with some majors having ‘little appetite for anything above core numbers’. “Staffing continued to be a concern for some, but most have instigated remedial control measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Supplies were still tight, but average weights seem to be rising again. We reiterate our advice to producers to keep on top of weights and try to build a week’s gap in their system,” TVC said.

“The fresh meat market struggled as the much vaunted easing of lockdown turned out to be a bit of a damp squib, and orders from the restaurants and food outlets were lower than anticipated. Some outlets trimmed requirements and prices to suit.”

Weaner demand generally matched supply last week, although any supplies outside regular contract arrangements struggled to attract much interest. AHDB prices saw the weighted average for a 30kg store pig quoted at £59.36 and the weighted average for a 7kg weaner rise by £1.71 to £43.14.\

European Prices (p/kg.dwt) w/c 05/07/20    Movement on last week

European Av.                          132.45             – 4.07

Belgium                                  109.36             – 4.16

Denmark                                 126.27             – 0.71

France                                    140.16             – 5.40

Germany                                 131.67             – 12.52

Ireland                                     148.24             – 0.91

Holland                                    117.69             – 3.16

Spain                                       153.77             – 1.65

(Ref Weekly Tribune)

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.