By Peter Crichton
SIGNS are emerging that the Europe-wide BSE crisis may help UK pig producers end the year on a firm note.
Consumers throughout the EU are switching away from beef, with reports emerging that finished-cattle prices are tumbling and demand has been boosted for pigmeat.
Domestic pig prices are continuing to harden, with spot and auction markets leading the way.
Light pigs are in particular demand, with some auction quotes close to 1/kg liveweight, equivalent to 1.25/kg deadweight.
The UK AESA has put on a further 0.77p/kg to stand at 104.25p, and this index price is expected to maintain its upward track.
Finished pig prices in many European countries have hardened, with Dutch, French, German and Danish producers now receiving returns between 85-95p/kg for heavy pigs.
The Dutch AEX futures market is also reflecting the effect of the BSE situation on the pigmeat sector.
November closed in the 90p territory and December looks firm as well.
The combination of rising prices and falling numbers is now filtering down to the store pig market.
The FARMERS WEEKLY 30kg ex-farm average has now hit 36.41 per head, its highest level for over 30 months.
- Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry