EU PIGMEAT prices continue to improve, causing cheap imports to pose less of a threat to the domestic market.

The current European mainland average price is equivalent to almost 99p/kg deadweight, compared with an average of 78p/kg one year ago.

Outdoor pig producers will be entitled to the new single farm payment from 2005, which may also help to stimulate pig numbers, although it is unlikely that the industry will see a swing back to the production levels of 10 years ago.

Prices for spot and contract pigs purchased for this week‘s kill (w/c July 12) are generally unchanged, with contract bacon trading at 105-109p/kg and spot quotes 3-5p/kg below this.

Lighter weights continue to earn a modest premium with cutters between 108p and 114p/kg, although the current unsettled weather has affected barbecue demand.

Cull sow quotes have remained firm with export specification abattoirs bidding 70-74p/kg, reflecting stronger EU pig meat prices. 
 
Weaner prices remain affected by a lack of finishing space with the Meat and Livestock Commission 30kg average of £33.50/head ex-farm barely matching production costs.

The availability of finishing space is forecast to fall further due to a number of former pig finishing units now benefiting from barn conversion and farm diversification schemes.