By Peter Crichton

MOST UK abattoirs are now reacting to the long-awaited drop in slaughter numbers by pushing up prices.

This has been reflected in the latest spot and formula quotes on offer.

The UK AESA took its biggest hike for months this week when it shot up almost 4% to stand at 78.59p, its highest level since last October.

Spot baconer prices also rose sharply with most prices now in the 85-90p range and demand exceeding supply.

The latest abattoir statistics for the week ended 5 February show 266,000 head throughput compared with 297,000 a year earlier.

Store-pig prices continue to reflect a growing shortage, and the Farmers Weekly 30kg price is up again to 25.92 per head.

But many buyers have complained they have had to bid well over 30 to be sure of getting all the pigs they need.

Another supply problem has been highlighted by the spread of the twin killer diseases of PDNS and PMWS, both of which are commonplace in pig dense parts of the region.

BQP, which runs the largest compounder-owned pig scheme in the country, has been particularly hard hit, with reported losses of 10-20% on affected units.

For a firm marketing over 7000 pigs per week, this could amount to mortality exceeding 10,000 pigs over a 12-week period.

In Europe, pigmeat values are also on the move, which has lifted the cost of imports and helped to keep domestic prices firm.

The Dutch AEX futures market has been bullish over the past few weeks, and May and June deadweight delivery is quoted at between 82p and 84p/kg for a heavy carcass, well ahead of their current cost of production.

Another indicator of better EU wide prices is the way in which cull-sow values have improved despite the strong Pound.

Latest bids have been between 56 and 60p/kg deadweight which values the average sow at about 80.

This should now allow hard-pressed producers to look at ordering replacement gilts at commercial levels.

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