By Peter Crichton

BEFORE the German BSE crisis, the average UK deadweight sow price was close to 70p/kg.

Traders are now looking at prices in the 50p region, provided space is available. Live auction returns have already slumped to 35p/kg.

Exporters expect to start mopping up the extra sows held up in the system next week, and the best advice to producers is to hold on to their surplus sows until the picture is clearer and new export markets have been found.

A spin-off from the sow situation will also be felt in the finished pig sector.

Although the GB AESA only fell by under 1% this week to stand at 101.5p, spot quotes are forecast to drop more than this with heavy baconers quoted in the low to mid-90p/kg bracket.

Retail demand for pork remains good in the UK, but extra imports of manufacturing-grade pigs will hit the domestic market due to the BSE situation in Germany.

Recent weekly Dutch imports to the UK rose to almost 3300 tonnes, equivalent to 47,000 pigs.

The weakness of the UK market has not been helped by pigs kept back over the holiday period and Maltons decision to cut kill numbers to below 20,000 per week.

However, trade sources believe that once the backlog of pigs has been cleared up and the sow situation resolved, we should see prices harden again, because of the underlying shortage of UK pigs and the strength of the Euro which is now worth 63.3p on the foreign exchanges today (12 January).

farmersfield.co.uk