THE FIRST six months of 2004 have painted something of a mixed picture for the UK pig industry.

Contract prices linked to the GB Euro Deadweight Adjusted Pig Price (DAPP) are standing at 108.01p/kg, almost identical to the DAPP price a year ago.

But spot baconers are trading at 101-104p/kg, some 8-10p/kg below prices 12 months ago.

European mainland markets have rallied strongly over the past year, with the current  “big six” production countries average at 99p/kg compared with 88p/kg at the end of June 2003.

The performance of the Euro remains a key factor to the profitability of the UK pig industry. 

On Mon, July 5, the Euro opened at 67p, which is 2.5% below one year ago, making imports cheaper and exports less competitive.

Although details of the June 2004 provisional pig census have not yet been announced the trend is expected to show a further fall in the size of the UK herd, which now accounts for just 3.7% of the EU-25 breeding herd of 15.1m head.

According to the Meat and Livestock Commission 146,000 pigs were slaughtered on average each week in the year to May.

That is equivalent to 11,000t – a drop of 27% in just three years.

Weaner prices have also fallen, with the MLC 30kg value at £33.50/head ex-farm compared with £39.51 in June 2003.

The only area to show any significant improvement is the cull sow market.  

Export abattoirs are currently quoting 70p/kg for culls – a rise of 8p/kg in a year and worth an extra £12-£15/sow.

Feed wheat prices have seen wide fluctuations over the past 12 months, rising from £72/t ex-farm one year ago, to £108/t in December and falling back to about £73/t now.

The soya market has followed a similar volatile pattern, hitting £220/t at the start of the year before falling to £155-£160/t.