20 October 1995

Lower demand puts brakes on pig prices

THE upward trend in pig prices has ground to a halt, with the average easing to just under 100p/kg in the week ending Oct 16. Partly responsible has been a slacking of August and Septembers fierce demand by Dutch and Danish suppliers seeking to fill Japanese orders before the expected imposition of an import tariff. (And although any such "gate-price" is yet to be implemented, reports point to large supplies now in Japanese bonded warehouses.)

Shoring up demand, meanwhile, has been the cooler weather and the approach of Christmas.

The net effect was a fall of 1.35p/kg on the previous week in the seven days to Oct 16.

At Thirsk, where bacon pigs have typically been making about 98p/kg and pork pigs 103p/kg, auctioneer Chris Clubley says prices should remain firm in the run-up to Christmas. "This gap between baconers and porkers may widen to 8p or 10p/kg over the same period," he adds.

Thirsk numbers up

Numbers at Thirsk have been up in the past few weeks but this is due to more stock being marketed on a liveweight basis, rather than to any overall increase in supplies, he suggests.

Nationally, weekly slaughter levels have remained down on last year. The MLC puts September clean pig slaughterings at 6.5% below their 1994 level. And the last week of the month saw a clean pig kill of 272,000; one year earlier it had been 297,000.

Overall, the EU breeding herd was 1.7% lower in April 1995 than 12 months earlier, according to the Irish Food Board. And pigmeat production in the EU 12, at 15m tonnes, is likely to be about 1.5% lower than last year. &#42