Weaner prices surge to record levels

The EU average weaner price has surged over the past three months, climbing over €11 to stand at a shade under €54 per head for week ended 26 February. This is the highest average weaner price on record, according to analysis by AHDB pork.

The rising prices reflect the tight supply and increasing prices of finished pigs within the EU in recent months. Even though demand for pig meat remains lacklustre within the EU, export demand continues to be buoyant. At the same time, there are also shortages of weaners as breeding herds are contracting in a number of key producing states. As a result, the EU weaner trade has been increasing, especially into Germany and Poland which has benefitted Danish exporters in particular.

However, the rise in finished pig prices has not yet matched that seen for younger animals, which could ultimately put a ceiling on how much further weaner prices can climb. Despite this, there is clearly optimism that finished pig prices will remain firm in the coming months, helped by the seasonal increase in EU demand.

The overall strong upward trend was particularly driven by the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, analyst Bethan WIlkins said. While Dutch and German piglet numbers were both reported to be down on a year earlier according to December pig census figures, Spain actually reported an increase. The Spanish market for weaners is strong at present, with young pigs in demand both for domestic finishing and to a lesser extent the growing live export market. Polish prices have shown more gradual price increases, likely due to relatively larger piglet supplies helped by the large increase in imports. In the UK, weaner prices have also shown more modest price increases, although supplies have been tightening in recent months. Conversely, weaner prices in Denmark actually fell at the end of 2016, and have been relatively stable at around €43 per head for the last six weeks.

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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.