By Peter Crichton
DESPITE the MLC and British Pig Association predictions in the autumn that end-of-year pig prices would hit the 80p mark, the industry is facing returns at bargain-basement levels.
The AESA has dropped by 0.32p to stand at 68.71p, and is expected to slide further during the rest of the month.
Spot traders are faced with increased pig numbers and, with two short weeks ahead, there will plenty of pigs on offer, including an estimated 8000 former Malton contract pigs now dumped on to the spot market.
Although spot prices have held in the 60-65p range for bacon weights over the last fortnight, group traders expect these prices to fall by 4-6p/kg.
Live auction returns have also weakened, with most pigs traded between 44-50p/kg liveweight.
But some marketing groups are reporting that store pig numbers are starting to dry up, and they claim that this will filter down to finished pig numbers by the end of January.
Due to the shortage in store pigs, 30kg weaner prices have remained firm, selling at between £16-18/head. This compares with £10-£12 when prices plummeted three months ago.
The UK sow market staged a slight rally during the week, with private storage aid and exports to Russia helping to stimulate the heavy pig market.
Cull sow prices rose to 40p/kg deadweight but, with the onset of Christmas closedown throughout the EU, sow buyers are not expecting to see any further improvement in this sector until the New Year.