Lighter pigs are answer at Christmas
By Tim Relf
FARMERS are being advised to sell pigs at lighter weights as the price differential between porkers and baconers widens in the run-up to Christmas.
At Wickham, auctioneer Peter Crichton says that after the "one-price" pig seen in the summer, porkers are now commanding a 7p/kg premium.
Not one of the 800-plus pigs sold last week was of pork weight, adds Mr Crichton. This week, they accounted for just 15 out of the 730-strong entry.
Similarly Banburys Mike Carter says that, especially in the last few weeks before Christmas, the 85kg to 90kg pigs are not wanted. "I always advise producers to sell them slightly lighter."
The advice comes as pig prices, having eased slightly last month, have once again increased.
"Continuing firm," is how Nigel Stephenson described trade at York on Monday. "All weights averaged over 100p/kg, with a top price of 111.8p/kg."
About 35% of Yorks entry is currently accounted for by lighter weight pigs, although this could increase to almost 50% in the run-up to Christmas, suggests Mr Stephenson.
Strong seasonal demand and short numbers are thought to be underpinning prices. And the imposition of a 25% Japanese import tariff with effect Nov 1 has had no immediate downward pressure on prices.
Latest MLC figures show slaughterings in the week to Oct 21 of 282,000; at the same time one year earlier, they had stood at 296,000.
And the recently-released results of the MAFFs August pig survey show a 2% decline in the size of the breeding herd compared to a year earlier.
The MLC points out, however, that the strength of pig prices – 20% above 1994 levels during August, September and October – may encourage some modest herd expansion by the end of the year. *