GB PIG PRICES are now the lowest of the “big seven” EU pig production countries, with the exception of Spain and Denmark.

The latest GB Euro Deadweight Adjusted Pig Price of 99.36p/kg for pigs traded in the week commencing Sept 27 compares with reference prices of 102-109p/kg in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

European mainland pig prices also relate to much heavier carcass weights, with averages in these countries between 85 and 90kg.

According to the Meat and Livestock Commission typical bottom line deductions in the UK are equivalent to 4.5p/kg (£3/pig) compared with an EU average of 2.6p/kg (£2.20/pig).

These reference prices exclude deductions for transport which in some EU countries are included as part of the bid price.

But according to the British Pig Executive (BPEX) GB production costs are the highest in Europe with the exception of Parma Ham production.

This is due to generally higher finance costs, pig welfare levels, quality assurance standards and the widespread use of straw in finishing systems.

Although recent falls in grain prices have eased feed costs EU mainland producers will also benefit.

Ex-farm prices for GB feed wheat are now between £57 and £59/t compared with over £80/t one year ago.

Pig meat imports still pose a significant threat to the GB market despite higher EU prices coupled with a relatively firm Euro.

In many cases current returns are failing to match production costs and GB pig prices will need to rise significantly during the vital October/November trading period.

Unless there is a significant rally in domestic pig meat prices high cull sow values will tempt hard-pressed producers to reduce or clear herds in the months ahead.