By Peter Crichton

UK producers will continue to struggle to compete with imports unless Sterling falls to below DM2.80, according to abattoir operators and meat traders.

Dutch imports alone were up by a reported 380,000kg in one week alone from 3-10 September, and Danish tonnages are said to be rising.

The valuable UK leg trade has been undermined by imports with many of the major users shunning the dearer UK product.

As the leg represents such a major part of the pig UK carcass that prices have fallen accordingly.

The latest UK AESA has slipped by 1.36p/kg to stand at 80.9p/kg and many of the leading EU Reference Figures are also showing negative or static trends.

AEX Dutch pigmeat futures prices are also flagging up dull quotes for the last 3 months of the year with liveweight prices all in the 59 to 60p/kg range.

Weaner prices continue to slide with the average East/West/North spot ex farm figure a further 36p down to £23/head, £9/head below the Signet cost of production figure.

UK and other EU market prices this week all point to a difficult trading period in the run up to the end of the year.

Because of the fall in the UK AESA spot buyers are expected to find it hard to compete with contract buyers at the selling end.

Pig marketers believe this will keep the lid on any significant revival in spot prices even if UK numbers continue to tighten.

The Millennium celebrations are expected to disrupt marketing over the year end period and when we hit December extra contract pigs will be pulled forward which may also add downward pressure on prices.

With only 55 more slaughtering days before Christmas producers need to look carefully at their marketing plans to ensure that they are not left with a glut of pigs to sell over the extended holiday period.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry