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The Long and Winding Road

22nd Jun 2019 / By Peter Crichton

The SPP continues its upward track albeit at walking speed than running, putting on 1.11p this week to stand at 148.95p, which is its highest point since September last year.

Still a long way to go however before UK prices can match those in mainland Europe where the latest German producer price stood on at €1.83 (163.5p in our money).

Weekly contribution prices still have some more catching up to do with a wide range between the goodies and the baddies on this front with most quoted up by around 1p between 142p and 149p.

Slightly more demand for spot bacon in the 152p-155p region, but complaints from some processors that the slow recovery of the SPP is not just down to them because their retail customers are also playing hard ball on prices despite rising global pig meat values due to the ongoing ASF epidemic in many of the oriental countries in the Far East.

Cull sow prices have also improved by around 1p with most now quoted between 100p and 106p with medium weight culls generally averaging in the £150 region compared with £85 at the start of the year so in Hughie Green speak it’s almost a case of 'Double your Money'. A further improvement in the value of the Euro has also helped to nudge the value of cull sows in the northerly direction with the Euro trading today worth 89.40p compared with 89.26p a week ago.

Weaner prices have remained relatively static with reports of a shortage of finishing space filtering through despite a more promising outlook for finished pig prices due to the ongoing ASF situation continuing to knock holes into the whole global pig meat supply chain.

Mixed messages from the cereal and protein markets where forward prices for UK wheat have been around £155/t for July compared with £151/t for September and barley at a significant discount trading for July at £135/t and £137/t for September.

Soya prices have eased a shade but are still much higher than their position two months ago with Hipro soya meal traded for the July-October period at £311/t and for November-April 2020 at £316/t.

UK spot ex farm feed wheat prices have hardened slightly averaging £147.50/t but barley prices weakening to average £123.20/t.

With reports of good European harvest prospects following the recent 'soft refreshing rain' this could help to put some downward pressure on cereal prices if these better yields come up to expectations when the combines start rolling in earnest.

Last week’s timely warning about the spread of dysentery in the UK may have come too late for some with news of a further outbreak in Notts following soon after the detection of dysentery on a Leicestershire grower unit.

Although the consequences of dysentery are not quite as serious as swine fever, it can still make a massive hole in producers’ budgets and in some cases drive them out of business.

And finally finally, there are calls from the AHDB for outdoor pig breeders, who now produce around 50% of all pigs in the UK, to work more closely with arable landlords and make pigs a useful part of the crop rotation putting goodness back in the soil rather than taking it out and also delivering a handsome rent in excess of £300/acre plus BPS payments to the lucky landlord!

However, despite the better financial returns which outdoor pigs can produce for landlords well ahead of overall crop margins, it is still difficult to find suitable light land sites in pig free areas which is why this latest campaign by the AHDB is to be encouraged.