By Peter Crichton

THE catering sector continues to absorb most of the imported pigmeat in the UK and there seem to be few attempts at point-of-sale product identification.

According to retail analysts, Whitbred now handles more meat than Tesco through all its catering outlets.

The difference between farmgate and retail prices rose during October by 15% and this now stands at 353% compared with 255% three years earlier.

The shrinking size of the UK industry is illustrated by a spate of mergers on the feed and marketing fronts.

The ABF/Dalgety tie-up is the latest of these following on from the BOCM Pauls takeover of Porcofram. Other similar amalgamations are anticipated in the months ahead.

UK prices remain pegged to the latest UK AESA which stood virtually unchanged this week at 76.29p/kg.

Spot quotes are struggling to match this and as the long year end and holiday period approaches more pigs will be pulled forwards adding extra supply to an already weakened market.

Weaner returns are also reflecting little confidence in the months ahead with the Farmers Weekly 30kg prices fixed at £18.98/head despite of tightening numbers.

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