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The Times They are a Changin'

26th Apr 2020 / By Peter Crichton

Very much a two tier trade and, although the SPP, crept ahead by 0.37p and now stands at 164p, the picture on the other side of the Channel looks very different with prices falling sharply.

The influential German bacon pig producer price fell with a wallop, losing 9 cents in value and now stands at 1.75EU, which is equivalent to 1.53p in our money and not good news as far as Europe-wide pig values are concerned.

Most UK contract buyers have left their contribution prices at similar levels between 155p and 163p/kg, but this price will soon be suffering from cramp as it has stayed in the same position since early December!

With the prospect of more cheap pig meat imports heading this way, spot quotes had an easier feel to them, although volumes have been very light with most pigs being sold on contract and Red Tractor and RSPCA Assured pigs meeting a reasonably firm demand from the major retailers.

Spot bacon tended to be in and around the 164p/kg region matching the SPP.

Hardly surprisingly, news of the German pig price slump has also been reflected in cull sow values with UK exporters slashing their prices back by around 10p/kg with the result that most cull sow quotes were from 104p/kg upwards, but space has proved to be very limited in some areas.

Fortunately, the value of the Euro has staged a minor rally trading today worth 87.32p compared with 86.97p seven days earlier, but this slight improvement was not significant enough to have much influence on prices in the export and import sectors.

Weaner prices have gained significantly over the week with the latest AHDB 30kg ex farm average up by almost £3/head to £61.75/head and 7kg weaners are up 70p to £42.77/head.

However, until the finished pig price picture becomes clearer it is likely that buyers will continue to adopt a fairly cautious approach.

Commodity markets are not for the faint-hearted with the price of Brent Crude enjoying a helter skelter ride during the week and trading at a high of $28.30 and a low of $21.50. A certain amount volatility has also been reflected in the feed ingredients markets with May wheat quoted at £163/t and September at £172/t, feed barley for May at £137/t and firmer for longer dates at £140/t for September.

Soya prices have eased a touch, which might help to put something of a spring in their step for pig producers with May Hipro soya worth £317/t and for November 2020 to April 2021 £317/t.

And finally, although the COVID nightmare continues the question of whether or not this is with or without a Brexit deal remains to be seen, bearing in mind that the current leaving date is only just over eight months away and the terms negotiated will have a very real effect upon the UK pig industry and its future profitability or otherwise.

And finally finally on a positive side, it is good to note to note that the AHDB has launched a new campaign to stimulate pig meat consumption, which will include a £100,000 promotion campaigns to increase demand for pulled pork. The campaign runs from the April 22 for six weeks and with restaurants and eateries closed this should encourage more home-cooked pork to feed the nation.

Remember, 'God sends the meat, but the devil sends the cooks'.

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