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NPA Pig Industry Blog - May 23, 2024: SPP on the up; Red Tractor chair announces departure;Cranswick profit boost

23rd May 2024 / By Alistair Driver

Updates on the latest developments as the NPA seeks solutions to the long-running crisis that has hit the pig sector. 


May 23, 2024

SPP on the up

The EU-spec SPP increased by a welcome 0.56p to reach 211.42p/kg during the week ended May 18, the biggest movement either way since the first week of this year.

This followed weeks of small fluctuations over the past three-and-a-half months that has seen the SPP remain in a narrow band of less than 1p. It remains remains just over 9p below where it was a year ago.

The much more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, gained 0.48p during the week ended May 11 to stand at 211.61p/kg, after losing nearly 2p over the past three weeks. This left it 0.75p ahead of the SPP for the week.

The EU reference gained 1p to stand at 188.15p/kg during the week ended May 12, its highest level for some time. The gap to the equivalent UK reference price stood at 21.5p, a fairly typical dfference.

Estimated GB slaughterings increased by 10,000 to 151,638 during the week ended May 18, following the previous week’s very low figure, but were still 12,000 down on the same week a year ago and 40,000 below the 2022 figure. 

AHDB’s weekly slaughter estimates are always subject to revision.

Average carcase weights were unchanged at 90.72kg in the SPP sample during the week ended May 19, 1.1kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at £190/tonne for May, £3 up on last week, just under £200/t for July and £220/t for November 2024, £2 up on last week.


May 22, 2024

Red Tractor chair announces departure

Christine Tacon has announced she is leaving her role as chair of Red Tractor, having been appointed as board of the Co-op. 

Mrs Tacon was appointed as Red Tractor chair in Janauary 2021 and has recently had to steer the organisation through the furore surrounding the introduction of the Green Farms Commitment and subsequent reviews of Red Tractor and farm assurance more widely.

Mrs Tacon said her return to the Co-op, where she headed its farming operations between 2000 and 2012, has created a dilemma in relation to her Red Tractor role.

Mrs Tacon made it a clear in a statement that she would have liked to have remained as Red Tractor chair, but that it was 'mutually agreed' with Red Tractor's Owneraship Body that she would need to step down from the role, if she was to join the Co-op board. She said did not want to 'give oxygen to those intent on criticising Red Tractor' or cause any 'negative publicity'.

"I would like to make it very clear that this is not a move I welcome in any way. I would have far preferred to carry on supporting Red Tractor at such a critical point. I am also confident I could have executed both roles without compromising either organisation," she said.

More HERE


May 21, 2024 

Cranswick profit boost

Cranswick recorded a 26% increase in its profits in the latest financial year, as it continued to invest heavily in the business and grow its revenues.

The Hull-based pig and poultry business’s revenue grew by a further 11.9% (11.6% like for like) to £2.6 billion in the 53 weeks to March 30, 2024.

Its adjusted profit before tax went up from 140 million in 2022/23 to £176m in the last financial year, a 26.1% increase, while its adjusted operating margin increased from 6.3% to 7.1%.

Cranswick said its performance reflected a strong contribution from its expanded pig farming operations, tight cost control and robust returns from the effective deployment of capital.

More HERE


Huge leap in domestic ASF cases in Europe

A five-fold increase in the number of cases of African swine fever (ASF) in domestic pigs was recorded in Europe last year, as the total hit a nine-year high. 

A total of 14 countries in Europe recorded outbreaks in domestic pigs, according to the latest annual epidemiological report published by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as 2023 became the worst year for domestic outbreaks since 2014.

More HERE

The NPA continues to push for import checks on illegal meat imports, which pose a huge threat to the UK pig herd, to be properly resourced in the UK. The NPA is also calling for the 2kg threshold on non-commercial pork imports to be dropped in favour of an outright ban.  


May 13, 2024

Changes to permitted development rights    

Defra has published a new post on its Farming blog explaining forthcoming changes to permitted development rights from May 21.

The Department said it had made the changes to make it easier for farmers to strengthen their businesses.

From May 21, farmers will no longer be required to submit a planning application for specific types of development. This includes converting agricultural buildings to a wider range of commercial uses, such as larger farm shops, buildings for agricultural training and sporting facilities. 

You can read the post HERE 


Animal health industry welcomes five-year plan to combat antimicrobial resistance

A new Government five-year plan to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans and animals has been welcomed by the animal health sector.

The second national action plan will commit the UK to reducing its use of antimicrobials in humans and animals, strengthen surveillance of drug-resistant infections before they emerge and incentivise industry to develop the next generation of treatments.

The Government pledges to work alongside the veterinary profession to ensure that they have the necessary data, knowledge and skills to advise on good husbandry and animal management strategies for disease prevention, prescribe antimicrobials responsibly, and, where appropriate, recommend evidence-based alternative treatments in place of antimicrobials.

Cat McLaughlin, chair of The Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, said RUMA was ‘very pleased’ to see the launch of the plan today, which she said further supports and drives UK efforts to tackle AMR from a One Health perspective.

More HERE.


May 9, 2024 

SPP dips again

The EU-spec SPP dropped back by another 0.2p to stand at 210.76p/kg during the week ended May 4, following the previous week’s 0.1p decline.

The SPP has now fallen for five of the past six weeks, during which time it has lost 0.84p. However, after more than three months of small fluctuations, it is still only 0.6p behind where it was in late January, although it is now nearly 9p below where it was a year ago.

The much more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, lost another 0.5p during the week ended April 27 to stand at 211.79p/kg, after losing 1.31p the previous. This left it just 0.33p ahead of the SPP for the week.

The EU reference price more than made up for the previous week’s fall, gaining 1.1p during the week ended April 28 to stand at 188.29p/kg, narrowing the gap to the equivalent UK reference price to just over 20p.

Estimated GB slaughterings were 2,400 higher than the previous week at 152,543 during the week ended April 27. This was 5,400 down on the same week a year ago and still nearly 37,000 below the 2022 figure, when extra kills were taking place to get through the backlog. AHDB’s weekly slaughter estimates are always subject to revision. 

Carcase weights inched up by just by 0.06kg to 90.48kg in the SPP sample during the week ended May 5, more than 1kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at £190/tonne for May, £11 up on last week and £213/t for November 2024, £12 up on last week.


May 8, 2024

Global pig herd starts to turn corner, as consumption steadies and feed costs fall

The global pork industry is in the midst of a pivotal shift as sow herd numbers begin to plateau after a period of decline, according to Rabobank latest quarterly pork report.

This stabilisation has com about as a result of better-than-expected consumption trends, coupled with reduced production costs across most regions. These factors are contributing to a more optimistic outlook for pig prices and, therefore, encouraging producers to consider rebuilding their herds, with Rabobank predicting ‘meaningful’ herd growth will be seen next year.

More HERE


Italy sends in the troops to hunt wild boar in face of ASF threat

The Italian Government has announed it is sending in troops across the country to hunt wild boar in order to protect its pig industry from African swine fever (ASF). 

The mission, reportedly spearheaded by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is aiming to curb Italy’s wild boar population by as much as 80% over the next five years, according to the Daily Express.

The military deployment, comprising 177 soldiers, was approved by the cabinet as part of a comprehensive strategy to safeguard Italian agriculture and culinary heritage, it is reported.

More HERE 

 


April 22, 2024

Which? highlights misleading supermarket labelling

Consumer champion Which? has found evidence of ‘misleading, inconsistent and meaningless food labels in supermarkets’, alongside a lack of confidence in the system among consumers.

Which? researchers visited the UK’s biggest supermarkets and various examples of ‘meaningless’ pork product labels, including a pack of sausage rolls from Lidl which stated they were processed using ‘UK and non-UK pork’.

Aldi’s Crestwood bacon and cheese wraps had Union Jacks and ‘Made in Britain’ on the front of the pack, while the label on the back said they were made with pork from the EU.

A Which? survey of 2,011 UK adults revealed that only 51% of shoppers found the current origin information helpful, while 64% would be more likely to buy a product labelled ‘British’ than one that was not.

Which? will be sharing its findings with Defra’s consultation on changes to food labelling laws, launched in February.

More HERE


Defra insists BTOM will be up and running on April 30

Defra has insisted its new border controls will be ready on April 30, after a report in the Financial Times cast considerable doubt on the extent of physical checks that will take place from that date.

The FT reported on Friday that it has told the country’s port authorities that it will not ‘turn on’ critical health and safety checks for EU imports when post-Brexit border controls begin this month because of the risk of ‘significant disruption’.

However, in a blog, Defra strongly refuted the report, insisting the government has ‘full confidence that the facilities, infrastructure and systems at the border, will be ready for the April 30 implementation date of new border checks’.

More HERE


Sofina Foods Europe acquires farms and livestock from Rattlerow Scotland

Sofina Foods Europe, which owns Karro, has strengthened its integrated pork supply chain through the acquisition of a number of farms, equipment and livestock from Rattlerow Scotland, part of leading UK pig genetics company Rattlerow Farms. 

The deal will also see up to 12 Rattlerow Scotland employees transferred to Sofina Europe, with Rattlerow continuing to manage elements of genetic input and technical oversight.

More HERE


 

April 18, 2024

SPP falls for third week in a row as slaughter numbers rise

The headline pig price continues to fall, as prices in Europe stagnate, while last week saw a notable increase in estimated slaughter numbers. 

The EU-spec SPP fell for the third consecutive week during the week ended April 13, dropping back by a further 0.34p to stand at 210.67p/kg. The SPP has now lost nearly 1p over the past three weeks and 3p since the end of 2023, despite barley moving during February and March. It is now nearly 7p behind where it was a year ago, when pig prices were still rising.

The much more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, gained 0.78p during the week ended April 6, more than cancelling out the previous week's losses, to stand at 211.93p/kg. This put it nearly 1p ahead of the SPP for the week.

Having gained 16.5p in the February and March, the EU reference price dropped back by 0.7p during the week ended April 7 to stand at 187.3p/kg. This meant the gap to the equivalent UK reference price expanded slightly to 21.3p, albeit still much more manageable than the 37p gap at the start of February.

The most eye-catching aspect of this week's update is a big increase in estimated GB slaughterings, although this might be partly explained by the fact that it followed the two shorter Easter weeks.

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended April 13, were 13,000 up on the previous four-day week at 158,699. This was 5,000 more than the same week a year ago, but still 19,000 below the 2022 figure, when extra kills were taking place to get through the backlog.

As is often the case, there have been substantial revisions to recent estimated slaughter figures, following publication of Defra's latest monthly UK slaughter statistics. The previous few weeks have been revised upwards by, in some cases, more than 10,000 head.

Carcase weights fell back by more than 0.5kg to 91.15kg in the SPP sample during the week ended April 14, still more than 1kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at £173/tonne for May, slightly down on last week and £196/t for November 2024, £1 up on last week.


April 12, 2024

UK slaughterings 10% down in March

March UK clean pig slaughterings were 10% down on a year ago, the latest official Defra slaughter figures show.

A total 805,000 clean pigs were slaughtered in the UK in March, compared with 894,000 in March 2023. UK pigmeat production was 8.6%, 75,000 tonnes, lower than in March 2023, as carcase weights averaged 90.4kg, slightly down on February.

More HERE


Tesco launches Best of British website section

Tesco has become the latest UK retailer to launch a ‘Best of British’ section on its website. 

It becomes the seventh major retailer to launch British sections since a campaign was launched last year by Conservative MP Luke Evans. Morrisons was the first to move followed by Sainsbury’s, Aldi and, last month, Ocado Retail, Waitrose and Co-op. Asda is the last major retailer yet to commit.

More HERE


 

April 11, 2024

SPP falls back again

The EU-spec SPP fell for the second week in a row, dropping back by a further 0.38p during the week ended April 6 to stand at 211.01p/kg, meaning it has now lost 0.6p over the past fortnight.

The price index has been extremely stable over the past two months and, despite recent setbacks, is still only 0.35p behind where it was at the end of January. It is now nearly 7p behind a year ago, when pig prices were still rising at a decent rate.

The much more volatile APP lost a further 0.57p to to stand at 211.15p/kg during the week ended March 30, meaning it has now lost more than 2p in the last fortnight. This left it fractionally behind the SPP for the week.

The EU reference price gained another 1.2p during the week ended March 31 to stand at 187.88p/kg, closing the gap to the equivalent UK reference price to 21p, compared with 37p during the week ended February 4, when the EU reference price stood at 171.5p/kg.

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended April 6, the second of the two short Easter weeks, were 9,000 down on the previous week at 134,181. This was 16,000 below the same week a year ago, and more than 60,000 below the 2022 figure, when extra kills were taking place to get through the backlog.

These weekly slaughtering figures are always subject to revision when the monthly Defra UK slaughter statistics are published.

Carcase weights inched up again, averaging 91.68kg in the SPP sample during the week ended April 7, nearly 1kg up on the same week in 2023.

Cereal prices continue to edge up. London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £174/tonne for May, £4 up on last week and £195/t for November 2024, £2 up on last week.


April 9, 2024

Farming Today pig week explores farrowing crates

The BBC Farming Today programme explored the pros and cons of flexible farrowing systems at Bishop Burton college.

In the second part of its ‘Pig Week’, presenter Sarah Falkingham visited the East Yorkshire college’s new £1 million state-of-the art Pig Industry Training centre that includes 72 AM Warkup flexible farrowing pens.

You can see a fuller write-up HERE and listen to the interview HERE.


April 4, 2024

SPP drops back as market stability continues

The pig price has been remarkably stable of late and this continued during the week ended March 30, as the EU-spec SPP dropped back by 0.22p to stand at 211.39p/kg.

This continued the recent pattern of small dips and gains in quick succession, cancelling out the previous week's 0.3p increase. The price index is now back virtually where it was at the end of January, having stayed within a tight band of 0.3p within the eight-week period.

It is now more than 4p behind where it was a year ago, when pig prices were still rising at a decent rate.

 

The much more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, lost virtually all the gains made the previous week, dropping back 1.5p during the week ended March 23, to stand at 211.73p/kg, leaving it fractionally ahead ahead of the SPP for the week.

The EU reference price gained another penny during the week ended March 24 to stand at 186.68p/kg, meaning the gap to the equivalent UK reference price has narrowed to 22p, compared with 37p gap of a few weeks ago. 

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended March 30 were 1,500 down on the previous week at 143,186, 19,000 below the same week a year ago, and nearly 27,000 below the 2022 figure. These weekly slaughtering figures are often subject to revision when the monthly Defra UK slaughter statistics are published.

Carcase weights are on the up again, averaging 91.35kg in the SPP sample during the week ended March 31, nearly 1kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £170/tonne for May, similar to last week and £193/t for November 2024, slightly up on last week.


March 28, 2024

SPP moves up again

The EU-spec SPP followed last week's small dip with a small gain of 0.3p during the week ended March 23 to stand at 211.61p/kg.

The price index has been extremely stable since the end of January, when it stood at 211.36p/kg, fluctuating up and down since. It is now 2.3p behind where a year ago, when pig prices were still rising at a decent rate.

The much more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, gained a further 1.6p during the week ended March 16, meaning it has gained 2.8p over the last two weeks, to stand at 213.23p/kg. This put it nearly 2p ahead of the SPP for the week.

The UK-EU price gap continues to narrow. The EU reference price gained another penny during the week ended March 17 to stand at 185.63p/kg, meaning the gap to the equivalent UK reference price has narrowed to 23p, far more manageable in terms of imports than the 37p gap of a few weeks ago.

Throughputs remain very suppressed. Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended March 23 gained nearly 4,000 on the very low figure of the previous week to stand at 144,650, 11,000 below the same week a year ago, and 27,000 below the 2022 figure.

These weekly slaughtering figures are always subject to revision – and AHDB has suggested that the very low figure of 141,000 for the week ended March 16 may reflect a higher proportion of pigs being killed outside the SPP sample than usual.

Carcase weights are coming down slightly, albeit from a high base, with the average in the SPP sample dropping back slightly to 91kg during the week ended March 24, 0.6kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £170/tonne for May, slightly up on last week and £192.5/t for November 2024, £3.50 up on last week.


March 21, 2024

Slaughter numbers plummet as SPP drops back 

The EU-spec SPP has dropped back again, but the most eye-catching part of the latest of AHDB's market data is the drop of in estimated slaughter numbers. 

If these turn out to be accurate - and they are often revision - weekly GB slaughterings, at 141,000 for the week ended March 16, appear to be at the lowest level outside of Christmas and New Year since April 2010. 

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week were nearly 6,000 down on the previous week, 20,000 below the same week a year ago and 34,000 below the 2022 figure.

The drop off appears to be a combination of the vastly reduced breeding herd, combined with, according to last week's PIG meeting, productivity issues, partly the result of the relentless wet weather. 

The SPP lost 0.18p to stand at 211.31p/kg during the week ended March 16, following the previous week’s 00.16p increase. It has been extremely stable since the end of January, when it stood at 211.38p/kg, fluctuating up and down by tiny amounts since, and is now roughly back to where it was.

It is now, however, for the first time in a very long time, now more than 1p behind the SPP of a year ago, which stood at 212.53p/kg, at a time when pig prices were still rising at a decent rate.

The much more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, gained 1.2p during the week ended March 9 to stand at 211.63p/kg, cancelling out the declines of the previous fortnight. This put it back ahead of the SPP for the week by just 0.14p/kg.

Despite the latest reverse, many within the industry remain optimistic that the combination of tightening supplies and rising EU markets will support the market over the coming weeks. 

The UK-EU price gap continues to narrow. The EU reference price was up another 2p to 184.73p/kg during the week ended March 10, with increases across the board among the big EU pork producers. It is now less than 24p behind the UK reference price, compared with 37p only a few weeks ago, with the potential for this to narrow further.

Carcase weights remain high albeit with the average in the SPP sample dropping back slightly to 91.15kg during the week ended March 17, 0.9kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £163/tonne for March, £3 up on last week, £169/t for May and £189/t for November 2024, the same as last week.


March 7, 2024

SPP drops back again 

After two consecutive very welcome weekly price increases, the EU-spec SPP dropped back by 0.27p to 211.33p/kg during the week ended March 2. 

This cancelled out a big chunk of the 0.46p gained over the previous fortnight. However, since the start to the year, the SPP has lost just 2.6p, representing a period of relative stability. It is, however, now just 1.6p ahead of the same week last year, when prices were still rising steadily.

The more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, lost 0.29p/kg during the week ended February 24 to stand at 211.36p/kg, cancelling out the 0.3p gained the previous week. This left it 0.24p behind the SPP for the week.

EU prices have been rising significantly over the past few weeks. The EU reference price gained a further 3p to reach 180.76p/kg during the week ended February 25, meaning it has increased by more than 9p in the space of three weeks, with the German reference price up by more than 13p over the period.

The gap to the UK reference price, which had grown to nearly 37p only a few weeks, has closed to 27p. The EU reference price is likely to go higher after further price increases last week.

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended March 2 were 9,400 up on the previous week and 1,000 above the 2023 figure, at 158,006, but remained 10,000 down on the same week 2022. These slaughtering estimates are often subject to revision.

Carcase weights remained high, with the average in the SPP sample rising to 91.18kg during the week ended March 3, 1.6kg up on the same week in 2023.

Cereal prices have moved back down and well below recent highs. London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £155/tonne for March, £5 down on last week, and £177/t for November 2024, also £5 down on last week.

Budget reaction

The NFU has welcomed some elements in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget, but said it doesn’t go far enough in offering stability for agricultural businesses, growth in food production and decarbonising the sector.

The headline announcements included a 2% reduction in National Insurance for the self-employed, while there was also an extension to agricultural property relief (APR).

You can read more reaction HERE


March 1, 2024

Defra Minister responds to EFRA concerns over Dover funding

Defra Minister Lord Douglas-Miller has responded to a request from Sir Robert Goodwill, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, for clarity over Defra’s funding plans for spot checks of Products of Animal Origin (POAOs) at the port.

He confrmed that Defra is cutting PHA funding used to tackle illegal meat imports, which he said was always going to be temporary until the Government’s Border Target Operation is in place. He suggested Dover could make up the shortfall by charging the illegal meat importers. 

A Dover District Council document shows Defra informed it just before Christmas that it was withdrawing 66%, £2m out of £3.2m, of funding from the DPHA in 2024/25, starting in April, and the remaining £1.2m in 2025/26.

The Defra Minister stressed that Border Force was ‘responsible for the management of illegal imports’, including spot checks at the point of entry, while PHA officers have been asked to ‘support Border Force to deal with illegal imports of POAO when they are identified’.

“Dover Port Health Authority, along with other PHAs, is currently in receipt of grant funding from Defra, under provisions put in place following the decision by government in 2022 to delay the implementation of SPS controls,” he wrote.

“Once phase two of the BTOM is introduced in April, this transitional grant funding scheme will end as intended: at this point PHAs will be able to charge traders to recover costs."

Full story HERE

ASF found in Albania for the first time

African swine fever (ASF) has been discovered in Albania for the first time, as it becomes the latest European country to report the virus.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) eports that the virus was found in two wild boar in a forest in the Kukes region in the North West the country, not far from its borders with North Macedonia and Montenegro, both of which have reported ASF outbreaks recently.

More HERE


February 29, 2024

SPP rises again

Pig prices continue to move in the right direction, as rising EU prices and tight domestic supplies support the market.

The EU-spec SPP increased by a further 0.39p to 211.6p during the week ended February 24, meaning the price index has risen for two consecutive weeks for the first time since late-July/early-August, when it reached its peak of beyond 225p/kg.

The SPP has lost 1.2p since the start of the year, while the gap to the same week 12 months ago has still narrowed to just below 4p.

The more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, gained 0.3p to stand at 211.65p/kg during the week ended February 17, having fallen back by 1.48p the previous week. This left it 0.43p ahead of the SPP for the week.

EU prices have been on the rise over the past few weeks, which is reflected in the EU reference price, which rose a further 4.2p to reach 177.76p/kg during the week ended February 18, meaning it has gained more than 6p in the space of a fortnight.

The gap to the UK reference price, which had grown to nearly 37p, has closed to just over 30p, a gap that looks likely to narrow further in the coming weeks.

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended February 25 fell by more than 7,000 on the week to 148,572, 7,000 down on the 2023 figure for the week, and 34,000 down on 2022. These slaughtering estimates are often subject to revision.

Carcase weights remained high, with the average in the SPP sample rising to 90.67kg during the week ended February 25, 1.3kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £160/tonne for March, £3 up on last week, and £182/t for November 2024, £1 up on last week.


February 27, 2024

UK export volumes down by 20% last year

UK Pigmeat export volumes, including offal, fell by 20% last year to 298,000 tonnes, as a result of lower UK production and subdued demand in Asia.

Imports of pigmeat to the UK were down by 2.4% over the whole 2023, totalling 781,600 tonnes, although that was all weighted towards a big year-on-year reduction over the first four months of 2023.

Full story HERE


February 20, 2024

Sunak announces industry support as Batters calls for food security priority

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was the headline speaker at the NFU conferene, which got under way on Tuesday morning. 

Ahead of a likely General Election, he attempted to convince a farming audience of 1,500 that the Government 'had their backs'. 

There was announcement of funding support, including an 'unprecedented package' of funding for technology and productivity schemed.

He announced around £220 million will be injected into the future-focused technology and productivity schemes to ensure farmers can access new equipment, including, he said, kit which increases automation to reduce reliance on overseas workers. There will be funding to increase support for processing, packing and retailing on farms.

He announced a doubling of the management payments for the sustainable farming incentive scheme, putting up to an extra £1,000 in farmers’ pockets.

He revealed that regulations intended to bring about fairness in the dairy supply chain will be laid tomorrow, ahead of similar regulations for the pig sector later this year, alongside announcements on food security. 

Under questioning from NFU president Minette Batter, he reitered his desire to ensure future trade deals do not undermine farmers by allowing imports of imports produced to lower standards than permitted in the UK - citing the 1999 sow stall ban to highlight the point. 

You can read more HERE 

In her final speech as NFU president, Mrs Batters has urged all politcal parties to commit to making food security and sustainable food producution a priority, ahead the election. 

"Which party will deliver the core standards that ensure food imports meet the same high values of animal welfare and environmental protection as those which British farmers are expected to meet?

“Which party will be the first to set a target for food production with a statutory underpinning? Because there is currently an imbalance between environment and food production in government policy. We must see changes this year to redress this before many more farms just simply disappear,” she said.

More HERE


 

February 15, 2024

SPP resumes downward journey, as APP moves up 

After last week's welcome move upwards, normal service was resumed as the EU-spec SPP dropped back by 0.33p to 211.14p during the week ended February 10.

This meant the SPP has now lost 2.7p over the first six weeks of the year and is now 14.5p below the early-August high of 225.64p/kg. The gap to the same week 12 months ago has narrowed to under 5p.

However, the more volatile APP increased again during the week ended February 4, gaining 1.16 to stand at 212.83p/kg. This put it ahead of the SPP by 1.36p for the week, in line with the more typical relationship between the two price measures.

The EU reference dropped by a further 0.6p to 171.43p/kg during the week ended February 4, meaning it has now lost nearly 12p during the first four weeks of 2024. The gap to UK reference price has grown to nearly 37p, the biggest it has been for some time, making imports extremely competitive.

Last week, however, EU pig prices rose across a number of major EU pig producing countries, led by a 10-cents increase in Germany, alongside a similar rise in its sow price, with Belgium up by close to 12 cents.

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended February 10, at 152,812, was nearly 1,000 down on the week and only 2,500 down on the 2023 figure for the week, but was more than 26,000 down on 2022. These estimated figures are frequently subject to revision.

Carcase weights remained high, although the average in the SPP sample was down slightly 90.54kg during the week ended February 11, about a kilo up on the same week in 2023.

Cereal prices continue to move in the right direction. London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £162/tonne for March, £8 down on last week, and £185.5/t for November 2024, £5 down on last week.


February 9, 2024

Defra faces Dover legal action threat

The BBC reports that Dover health chiefs are on the brink of major legal action against the government over plans to end checks for potentially dangerous foods at the UK's most important ferry terminal.

They warn that illegal food could reach the British plate if commercial lorry inspections are moved 22 miles inland to a new Border Control Post at Sevington. 

Full story HERE


February 8, 2024

Pig price decline halted as SPP inches up

After 16 consecutive weeks in decline, the EU-spec SPP inched up by 0.11p to 211.47p/kg during the week ended February.

This was only the second weekly rise since early August and means the SPP remains at just over 14p below the early-August high of 225.64p/kg, although the gap to the same week 12 months ago has narrowed to under 6.5p.

The APP, which includes premium pigs, has been much more volatile since early December, but it has also stabilsed, falling by just 0.01p to 211.67p/kg, during the week ended January 27. This meant it, again, moved fractionally ahead, by 0.31p, of the SPP for the week.

This encouraging pig price movement is happening despite falling EU prices. The EU reference dropped by a further 3p to 172.05p/kg during the week ended January 28, meaning it has now lost 11p during the first four weeks of 2024.

The gap to UK reference price has grown to more than 36p, the biggest it has been for some time, making imports extremely competitive.

The upward pressure on UK pig prices appears to be coming from tight supplies as we move out of the January lull. Recent Defra figures show UK pig slaughterings were down a massive 17% year on year in December and the trend has continued into January.

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended February 3, at 153,650, were 3,000 up on the week but remained 8,000 below the 2023 figure for the week and 27,000 down on 2022. These estimated figures are frequently subject to revision.

Carcase weights cotinue to rise - the average in the SPP sample was up by another 0.27kg to 90.71kg during the week ended February 4, more than a kilo up on the same week in 2023.

Cereal prices continue to move in the right direction. London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £168/tonne for March, £3 down on last week, and £190/t for November 2024, £3 down on last week.


February 5, 2024

Dover District Council urges Defra to rethink ASF check budget cuts

Dover District Council has called on Defra to scrap its plans to cut funding, worth £3 million, for essential checks for illegal imports at the Port of Dover. 

In a DDC report, published ahead of a cabinet meeting today, it emerged that Defra has tried to justify the cuts by arguing that the council could, instead, recover the costs of the work by charging illegal meat importers. But DDC says Defra has been unable to demonstrate how the service could be self-funding.

Since new rules banning the import of pork products weighing over 2kg not produced to EU commercial standards were introduced in September 2022, DPHA and Border Force UK have seized more than 64 tonnes of illegally imported meat.

Full story HERE


February 1, 2024

SPP continues gradual decline

The EU-spec SPP continues to fall at a very steady pace, losing 0.41p during the week ended January 27 to stand at 211.36p/kg.

Coming on the back of two consecutive declines of 0.5p, it has lost just over 2.5p during the first four weeks of 2024. The SPP is now just over 14p below the early-August high of 225.64p/kg, and less than 7p above the price in the same week 12 months ago.

The APP has been much more volatile in recent weeks, with some large weekly increases interrupting the downward trend, including a gain of nearly 3p during the week ended January 13. Normal service was resumed during the week ended January 20, as the APP lost 1.43p to stand at 211.68p/kg, which, once again, put it fractionally behind the SPP for the week.

The EU reference price lost a further 3.15p during the week ended January 21, taking it down to 175.84pkg, meaning it has now lost more than 7p in the space of three weeks. This leaves it nearly 40p below the mid-July high of 215p/kg. The gap to the UK reference price has grown again to 33.5p, the biggest gap seen for time. 

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended January 27, at 150,356 remained 12,000 down on the 2023 figure for the week and 34,000 down on 2022. These estimated figures are frequently subject to revision.

Carcase weights in the SPP sample were virtually unmoved 90.44kg during the week ended January 27, more than a kilo up on the same week in 2023.

Cereal prices continue to move in the right direction. London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £171/tonne for March, £7 down on last week, and £193/t for November 2024, £5 down on last week.


January 30, 2024

EFRA Committee's ‘deep concerns’ over budget cuts for illegal meat checks at Dover

The chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Sir Robert Goodwill, has written to Defra Secretary Steve Barclay to express ‘serious concerns’ over Defra’s plans to cut the budget for checks of illegal meat imports at Dover. 

The first phase of the Government’s Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) finally comes into force on Wednesday, January.

In the letter to Mr Barclay, Sir Robert said the Committee remains supportive of the implementation of the BTOM.

However, the letter highlighted MPs’ concerns over the budget cuts and the move to Sevington and a decision to move the Border Control Post for customs checks from Dover 22 miles inland to a site at Sevington, near Ashford.

Full story HERE


January 18, 2024

Dover ASF inspection budget cuts generate media interest

There is growing media interest in Defra's potentially damaging decision to slash funding for the excellent work being performed by the Dover Port Health Authority. 

Dover Port inspectors warn funding cuts risk UK food safety - FT

Dover: Fears over African swine fever from illegal meat - BBC

Border changes could spark animal health emergency as UK 'opens doors' to organised food criminals - FG

Defra to slash budget for smuggled meat checks at Dover - FW


SPP continues decline, as APP suffers another big dip

The UK pig prices continues its steady decline, with EU prices also beginning the year in reverse.  

The EU-spec SPP lost a further 0.51p during the week ended January 6 to stand at 212.28p/kg. It has now lost 1.6p during the first two weeks of the year and is now more than 13p below the early-August high of 225.64p/kg and only just over 10p ahead of the second week of 2023.

The more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, lost a further 2.22p during the week ended January 6, meaning it has lost nearly 4p in two weeks since Christmas. Having closed the gap, and even moved ahead at one point in December, the APP was trailing 2.4p behind the SPP in the first week of this year.

After some encouragement during the final two weeks of 2023, the EU reference price was down again in the first week of 2024, falling 1.8p to 181.32 during the week ended January 7. This leaves it 34p below the mid-July high of 215p/kg. The gap to the UK reference price has grown again to just short of 30p.

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week ended January 13, at 163,015 were only 1,600 down on the 2023 figure and nearly 30,000 up on the first week of the year. These estimated figures are frequently subject to revision.

Carcase weights moved up fractionally to 90.3kg during the week ended January 13, nearly a kilo up on the same in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £175/tonne for January, £5 down on last week, £180 for March and £26 higher for November 2024.


January 11, 2024

SPP drops by another penny in first week of 2024

The EU-spec SPP lost a further 1.05p over the first week of the year, falling to 212.79p/kg during the week ended January 6.

It has now lost 5p since the start of November and, while it is currently nearly 13p below the early August high of 225.64p/kg, it remains 12.5p ahead of the first week of 2023.

The more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, lost 1.72p during the week ended December 30 to stand at 212.59p/kg, having gained 0.23p the previous week. This left it 1.26p behind the SPP at the end of the year.

The EU reference price edged upwards by nearly 2p to 183.58p/kg during the final two weeks of 2023. It is now only just over 1p down on early November, following two months of relative stability. However, it remains 32p below the mid-July high of 215p/kg.

The gap to the UK reference price has narrowed slightly to 28p, but imports remain very competitive.

Estimated GB slaughterings remain well down year-on-year as we move into 2024. The figure for the week ended January 6, 133,992, was 19,000 down on a year ago. These estimated figures are frequently subject to revision.

The first week of 2024 saw a further increase in average carcase weights of nearly 1kg to 90.24kg, also nearly a kilo above the first week of 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £182/tonne for January, slightly down on earlier in the month, but was £24 higher for November 2024.


January 10, 2024

Cranswick's latest acquisition 

Cranswick has announced the acquisition of Froch Foods Holdings, an added value processor of predominantly pork and poultry related products.

Froch Foods operates from a dedicated facility in Stourton, Leeds, employing 74 people, and provides specialist processing capabilities to its flagship retail partner as part of the production of a range of bacon and cooked meats products.

Full story HERE


January 5, 2024

The EU-spec SPP lost a further 0.8p over the last two weeks of 2023, to end the year at 213.85p/kg .

Consecutive drops of 0.24p and 0.56p during the week ended December 30 meant the SPP has fallen for 18 out of the last 19 weeks. While it has now dipped nearly 11p below the early-August high of 225.64p/kg, the price index was still more than 13p ahead of the final week of 2022.

The more volatile APP, which includes premium pigs, gained 0.23p, having lost 1.43p the previous week, to stand at 214.3p/kg during the week ended December 23. This left it just 0.11p behind the SPP.

The EU reference price fell during the first half of December, dropping back by a further 0.6p during the week ended December 17 to 181.86p/kg. It has lost more than 3p in total since late November and more than 33p since the mid-July high of 215p/kg.

The gap to the UK reference price widened again to exactly 30p, significantly bigger than the single-figure gap seen for much of last year. Imports remain very competitive.

In the final week before Christmas, ending December 23, estimated GB slaughterings were down by 7,500 on the week to 164,190 head. This was 10,000 down on the same week a year ago, following a deficit of more than 40,000 the previous week. During the final week of 2023, the figure was 94,841, 34,000 down on the last week of 2022.

These estimated figures are frequently subject to revision.

Carcase weights fluctuated over the festive period, dropping to 87.75kg during the week ended December 23, the first time the average dipped below 88kg in 2023, before increasing to 89.33kg in the final week of the year. This compared with an early November high of 91kg and was 1kg heavier than the same week in 2022.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £183/tonne for January, slightly down on earlier in the month, but was £23 higher for November 2024.


December 21, 2023

SPP down again but APP on the rise

The SPP continues to come down steadily, although the latest APP has bucked the recent trend. 

The EU-spec SPP fell by 0.4p to stand at 214.65p/kg during the week ended December 10. After the previous week’s 0.94p drop, this was the tenth consecutive weekly reversal and means the SPP has lost 11p since mid-August and nearly 2p during December. It remains about 14p ahead of a year ago.

The APP, which includes premium pigs, has been more volatile of late. It moved up by a big margin, 1.51p, to stand at 215.5p/kg, during the week ended December 9, bouncing back from the previous week’s loss of more than 2p.

As a result, the APP moved ahead of the SPP by 0.45p, having spent most of the year since late May behind it, in a reversal of the usual relationship.

Falling EU prices since the summer have been driving UK prices downwards, along with weakening domestic demand for pork.

Having stabilised and even inched up during November, the EU reference price is falling again. It dropped back by a further 1.3p during the week ended December 10 to 182.71p/kg, following a similar reduction the previous week.

This is from a high of 215p/kg in mid-July. The gap to the UK reference price has widened again to nearly 30p, significantly bigger than the single-figure gap seen for much of this year. Imports remain very competitive.

Defra's November UK slaughtering figure sh