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Off the boil

18th Aug 2017 / By Peter Crichton

Some of the steam has come out of the pig market in the past few weeks with extra pigs around as well as a slightly more fickle demand for some parts of the pig, with loins harder to sell. But prices are still very much in producers’ favour and underlining demand remains firm.

The latest SPP remains virtually unchanged at 164.53p, but with the bank holiday looming and better pig availability, very few spot buyers needed to look too far to fill their orders, with the result that spot bacon was generally traded in the low- to mid-160p region compared with 170p+ a few weeks ago.

Weekly contribution prices may also be under a certain amount of downward pressure in the weeks ahead, but hopefully once the bank holiday is out of the way and schools/factories have returned to work, normal service will be resumed.

A stand on situation seems to be prevailing in Europe with the influential German Producer Price holding at similar levels for the fourth week running at 1.70EUR, and with the Euro currently worth 91.14p, this works out at an equivalent UK deadweight price of 155p/kg.

Cull sow prices have generally remained at similar levels, trading in the 95p-98p range.

The ongoing weakness of the pound will continue to help as far as import/export pig prices are concerned and is a welcome change from pre-Brexit values in June 2016 when the Euro was worth a mere 78.48p and cull sows were trading at 62p/kg dwt.

Weaner prices have remained firm, although with a few more available, buyers were able to pick and choose to some extent, but the latest AHDB 30kg average of £61.17 is up by £1.11/head on the week, although the 7kg average has slipped by 45p on the week to stand at £44.55/head.

Grain prices saw November ’17 UK wheat futures close below £140/t for the first time since May and January-May 2018 prices are also displaying easier trends within the £141.30/t to £144.75/t range.

Global cereal markets are generally flagging up bearish trends due to large grain surpluses and oilseeds are also falling back following increased US yield estimates.

‘Export or die’ used to be the maxim for the UK business community and it is good to see that pork is now the UK food and drink industry’s 9th biggest export product, following on from the top three delicious concoctions including whiskey, salmon and beer!

Pork exports to China were up by 47% in 2016 and hopefully the addition of pig trotters to the list will help to maintain or even improve export volumes in this valuable sector.

However, at the same time we need to see what can be done to stimulate demand for domestic fresh UK pigmeat and hopefully there will be enough money in the kitty for further promotions to take place this autumn and winter on the basis that ‘you have to give if you want to gather’.