Piglets© Tim Scrivener

Pig prices continue to rise, with the EU-spec Standard Pig Price moving above 160p/kg in the week ending 27 May for the first time since July 2014.

At 160.10p/kg the current quote was 0.89p up week-on-week and 42.6p higher than the same week in 2016, reports AHDB Pork.

Estimated slaughterings at 162,300 head were 3% lower on the week and 2% behind the equivalent week last year as the supply/demand balance remained in favour of producers, it said.

See also: Top tips for reviewing arable insurance

The average carcass weight of 82.81kg was the lowest since Christmas but was still 540g up on the same week last year.

In the week ending 20 May, the EU-spec All Pigs Price rose for the 12th consecutive week to its highest level since July 2014.

At 162.66p/kg, the current quote is 0.80p up on the previous week and nearly 43p higher than the same week in 2016.

Weaner prices also rose slightly in the week ending 27 May, with 30kg pigs averaging £59.90 a head, more than £20 a head higher than the equivalent week in 2016.

Seven kilo weaners put on slightly more, to average £43.31 a head, which is more than £14 higher than in the same week of 2016.

Feed price rises

While the sustained rise in pig prices goes some way to making up for the long period of losses, grain prices are well up on a year ago and with new crop harvests approaching and plenty of weather worries, markets are nervous.

Nevertheless, feed wheat prices have been relatively stable through 2017 and so the feed wheat:pig price ratio has been falling since late January. 

UK organic pig herd

About 5% more pigs were being produced organically in 2016 compared with 2015, according to latest figures from Defra.

The organic pig herd of 31,500 head was the highest since 2012 but still accounts for less than 1% of the national herd.

Germany’s shrinking pig herd

German clean pig slaughterings for the year to 21 May were 1.2% down on 2016, following a 3% annual reduction in the breeding herd in November last year.

Sow slaughterings in the country are well down (-16%), at 321,000 head, suggesting producers are no longer rationalising their breeding herds, said AHDB.

Forecasts from the German market information agency, AMI, predict a 0.4% year-on-year decline in net production for 2017.

While domestic supplies have been lower, consumer demand for pigmeat in Germany has also been weak, says AHDB, with household purchases of pork in January to March down 8% year-on-year, according to the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures.

On the export front, higher prices are reducing the competitiveness of German pork on the global market while trade with China is being disrupted by some plants having their licences suspended.