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Market comment: Space Oddity

13th Oct 2017 / By Peter Crichton

Although October and November are generally fairly good pig meat selling months at a time when volumes normally pick up, there seem to be more sellers than buyers at present and a significant lack of space with some of the main stream abattoirs.

The situation has not been helped by a mixture of breakdowns (mechanical, not mental yet!), the Brechin Abattoir fire in early-August and better prolificacy amongst the UK pig herd, which have all contrived to put pressure on abattoir slaughtering capacity and space, at a time of year when demand should be improving.

Although the SPP dropped another 1.52p this week to stand at 158.92pkg, the good news was that after four successive weeks of falling prices, the influential German pig producer price stood on at 1.50 EUR (1.32p), providing hope that we might have 'hit the bottom'  for the time being. However, the same cannot be said for the sow market which slipped again today.

Very few reports of UK spot bacon prices were available today, although the indications are that regular spot sellers could expect to receive in the 145p-150p region according to spec. But out of the blue one-off loads of spot bacon pigs would find very few takers and if so, bids in the 140p mark might apply subject to space.

Sow values down

Although the Euro traded on Friday midday worth 89.03p, up from 88.2p a week earlier, this did nothing to help cull sow values which were back by a fairly savage 5p/kg, with most now trading in the 75p-78p range according to spec. This compares with bids of around 100p last May, confirming a fall in cull values of around 25% putting financial pressure on those looking to replace worn out sows with replacement gilts.

Weaner prices have also taken a tumble due to concerns over finished pig values in the months ahead, with the latest AHDB 30kg ex-farm weaner average down by £2.38/head to £55.93/head, with their smaller 7kg counterparts also down by 71p to £43.33/head.

However, as with finished pigs, there is a wide price gap between contract and non-contract pigs, with the latter trading at significantly lower levels on the spot market. Buyers have become extremely scarce and cautious ,especially with a glance at their advent calendar revealing that today’s 30kg pig will be ready to sell in early January, which is normally a fairly challenging time to be marketing spot bacon pigs.

The cereal market has ended the week on a fairly quiet note with the latest ex-farm feed wheat UK price quoted at £135.70/t and feed barley looking better value at £122.20/t.

Futures prices have seen November feed wheat a shade easier on the LIFFE market at £139.50/t for November and March unchanged at £144.90 but most market movements have been currency driven rather than supply and demand related. Protein prices have seen stronger demand partly due to weather related concerns, with 48% Brazilian soya meal ex-Liverpool traded at £315/t and 34% rape meal ex-Kent, also firm at £161/t.

And finally, more grief on the Brexit front with news of the government’s rather limp wristed approach to dealing with lower standard food imports post Brexit, where our exit strategy seems to be more a case of a messy divorce than a managed withdrawal. But, after all, it is Friday 13th today!

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