By Peter Crichton
FRENCH pig farmers are reported to be staging violent protests now that their producer price has collapsed to UK levels.
But the French Government has pledged a 16 million aid package.
With news that many EU countries are now facing a pig price collapse matching that seen in the UK, fears remain that the home market will continue to be vulnerable to cheap EU imports.
Throughout the EU, the loss of the Russian market is seen as the root of the problem, as the former USSR used to account for up to 30% of EU production, especially at the lower-value manufacturing end of the trade.
A new initiative to open a food aid programme to Russia is seen as one way to kick-start this sector. Exporters have pointed out that any package needs to have international support or it may fall foul of GATT commitments; and also that all supplies could come from current intervention stocks, which would do little to benefit the overall EU market situation.
In the UK the AESA continues its slow recovery, with the latest quote of 65.56p for the week ending 31 October, up by 74p on the week.
However, the recent Malton decision to abandon its fixed price of 70p in favour of tracking the AESA has cut the ground from under many of their competitors at the selling end and may hold back any sharp rises in spot values.
With Signet quoting cost of production figures at around 90p/kg and feed prices starting to rise more, producers will find it hard to survive beyond the end of the year, according to industry financial analysts.
After hearing that Malton boss Max Hilliard is to receive the coveted David Black award for “outstanding services to the pig industry”, coupled with the British Retail Consortium “typing error”, many leading pig producers are wondering what other surprises are in store for their beleaguered industry.