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Get Off My Cloud

20th Jun 2020 / By Alistair Driver

In horse racing terms, pig prices have remained generally stable, but price wise, the stable door seems to be bolted with very little sign of any movement one way or the other apart from in the beleaguered sow market.

The SPP has improved by a modest 0.19p to stand at 164.64p and weekly contribution prices are also at recent levels within a fairly wide range between 155p and 166p according to spec.

With most pigs sold on contract, the spot market has remained relatively quiet with what activity there was tending to be in and around the 169p – 173p/kg mark.

Cull sow buyers have however been very cautious with UK prices generally at last week’s levels, following the news that Germany’s largest cull sow processor has had to shut down following reports of 657 of their staff being tested positive for COVID-19.

The Tonnies plant is expected to be out of action for several weeks, which may have implications as far as the volumes of sow meat exported from the UK for further processing and sale in Europe are concerned.

Some other German abattoirs have also had relatively high levels of COVID-19 outbreaks in the last few weeks, resulting in other plant closures and the need for extensive improvements to processing plants to provide a safe working environment for staff.

A slightly stronger Euro may, however, help to put a little bit of gloss on to the pig meat import export balance with a weaker Pound and the Euro trading at 90.31p compared with 89.67p a week ago.

Back home, weaner prices have remained relatively firm with the latest AHDB 30kg ex farm average quoted at £59.84/head and the 7kg average rising by 0.47p to stand at £43.00/head.

However, weaner numbers remain on the tight side partly due to various veterinary challenges including PRRS and fertility problems, which may conspire to put something of a lid on UK pig output as the autumn approaches.

Feedstuff ingredients have remained at similar levels to a significant degree, with UK feed wheat traded on the futures market at £168/t for July and £169/t for September, with barley just over £30/t below this trading at £137/t for September.

Reports of higher than originally estimated grain harvest forecasts for the Ukraine may help to limit cereal price rises as harvest approaches.

Proteins have been marginally firmer with Hi-pro soya meal traded at £304/t for July to October and £302/t for May to October 2021.

And finally, every cloud has a silver lining with reports that a reduction in pig meat output in the Far East should stimulate an increased demand for pork to the benefit of the whole agri-food sector.

Global meat production is forecast to fall by around 2% in 2020, providing the industry can keep on top of the challenges posed by COVID-19 as far as the abattoir and meat processing sectors are concerned or it could be a case of every silver lining having a cloud if things go wrong.