26 January 1996

Best for pigmen in first months of 96

What does the year ahead have in store for livestock producers? Tim Relf reports from the Meat and Livestock Commissions 1996 Outlook conference

FIRST half of 1996 will be better for pig producers than the second, according to Mick Sloyan, MLC economic policy manager.

Tight supplies, in the UK and on the Continent, would help keep prices firm during the first half, he told the MLCs Outlook conference in London on Tuesday. But with the rest of the year bringing increased marketings and weaker values of competitor meats, prices will then ease back towards the levels elsewhere in Europe, he predicted. Currently, with the Average All Pigs Price at about 135p/kg, UK prices are at an 8 to 10p premium over the Continent.

"Overall, 1996 will see prices between 3% and 5% up on last year, but most improvement will be seen in the first six months."

Although exports to some European countries may fall slightly, non-EU trade is expected to be maintained. And there are opportunities presented by growing consumption in many countries, including the Pacific Rim.

"Exports to both Japan and South Korea exceeded 5000t last year." The "Japan factor" would continue to be important, he said, although there was uncertainty whether the Japanese "gate-price" would be extended past March. Currently at 445p/kg, this is a minimum import price. &#42

Mick Sloyan predicts that this will be a "year of two halves" for pig producers.