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25th May 2019 / By Peter Crichton

China continues to dominate the piggy headlines and closer to home UK pig prices have remained positive, but it is good to see the SPP take a useful step up rising by 1.51p to stand at 144.45p and more of the same is expected in the weeks ahead.

Weekly contribution prices continue their timid recovery but some are still well adrift of current spot and SPP values, with most rising by a fairly miserly 1p and ranging between 136.5p -144p, although reports are circulating that some of the monthly contribution prices may be up by as much as 10p.

Spot bacon traded at similar levels to last week in the 150-154p range despite a “short” week ahead although many of the big plants are operating as normal and we now have three months until the next Bank Holiday disruption comes along.

An improvement in the value of the Euro which traded at 88.3p on Friday compared with 87.4p the week before, has also helped to make imported pig meat dearer and our exports to other parts of the world more valuable too, but although the German producer pig price stood on, an increase in the value of currency did not tempt the two major UK cull sow processors to nudge their prices up to follow suit, possibly also due to the upcoming Bank Holiday on Thursday in Germany.

Cull sow quotes therefore remain in the 96p to 102p range but this is certainly a much better position than they were in at the start of the year when 60p was the price.

Weaner values continue to improve with the latest AHDB 30kg average up £1.84 on its last quotation at £47.86 and 7kg prices also moved ahead to average £36.22 partly due to the increased level of the SPP.

Spot weaner supplies have gone from feast to famine with several of the larger weaner buyers waking up to the fact that the ASF epidemic in China and the Far East will continue to push up the global value of pig meat.

Feed prices have remained at generally similar levels with UK spot feed wheat traded ex farm in the £150/t region and futures wheat traded for June at £157/t and September at £149/t with barley remaining particularly good value with June quoted at £130/t and September a tad firmer at £135/t.

Protein prices have closed marginally firmer with Hipro soya at £291/t for June-October and £299/t for November-April ‘20. Rape meal values have remained at similar levels with June-July traded at £189/t and August-October at £188/t.

And finally China remains the major topic and according to the Chinese Horoscope, 2019 is the year of the pig but it looks like becoming more of a horror story as more details unfold of the extent over the current AFS disaster in the Far East.

According to recent reports Chinese losses are estimated to be between 40-60% of the national herd and a major drop in pig numbers will start in August following massive sow slaughtering’s at the start of the year.

Although all stored pork in China will be checked for ASF and positive samples will be burnt, this will take place as pig numbers slide and prices could jump. News has already been received of 4 week old pigs in China selling for up to £105 each and UK weaner sellers with “top and bottom” contracts might need to look at these when they come up for renewal and move the top further up the scale.

One thing for sure however is that the ASF crisis which is affecting more than just China may take years to eradicate as well as sourcing adequate numbers of ASF free replacement breeding pigs to re-stock disinfected units. which will be a Herculean task.

And finally, finally, it seems that Theresa May has followed the advice of the money men in the city “sell in May and go away”!