18 April 1997

Disease abroad boosts UK pigs

HEALTH problems on the Continent are supporting UK pig prices.

Early this week, spot prices were about 84p/kg lw, when as recently as early February, they were about 74p/kg.

Swine fever in Holland has been the driving force, with the Dutch destroying 650,000 pigs by Apr 8. And another 400,000-plus were on the list to be killed.

Meanwhile, Japan has closed its doors to Taiwan following foot-and-mouth problems. Last year, Taiwan sent 266,000t there, accounting for over 40% of the countrys imports.

Despite Japans high import tariff or "gate-price", the Meat and Livestock Commission says, if supplies tighten and prices rise, opportunities could open up for UK exporters.

The amount of pigmeat destined for Korea – which becomes an "open market" in July – could also rise this year above the 4000t headed there in 1996, says MLCs Bent Windahl.

Dafydd Owen, NFU pig adviser, points out that the strength of sterling has drawn Dutch and Danish imports into the UK.

"But the Dutch product may now be restricted and the Danish product may be more profitably sent to Japan."