By Peter Crichton

MALTONS decision to cut back its weekly kill is a major reason for slipping finished-pig prices.

After a year which saw the BG AESA improve from 76p/kg to 104.5p/kg prices have taken a slightly negative turn due to a combination of factors.

The latest GB AESA fell again this week by close to 1p to stand at 100.3p. The forecast is that next week this could fall below the 100p benchmark.

Spot traders are reflecting extra supplies by pulling back their quotes, with quotes for heavy baconers going out between 90p and 95p/kg and lighter pigs anywhere between 96p and 108p according to specification.

Sow prices have also taken a turn for the worst, with the 78p deadweight top price at the end of last year now converted into just 48p/kg.

Weaner prices have however remained remarkably firm with the FARMERS WEEKLY 20kg ex-farm price averaging 38.30, compared with 19.60 at the same time last year.

The slip in finished pig prices is due to a number of factors, the main one being the Malton decision to cut back to a weekly kill of 15,000 compared with over double that figure 12 months earlier.

The supply situation has also been distorted by cases of pigs with swine fever symptoms holding up the system in Malton.

At the same time, extra pigs held back over the Christmas and New Year holiday period are now hitting the market, and the demand for heavy manufacturing pigs has been hit by the BSE crisis in Germany.

The 38% drop in sow prices is also a direct casualty of the German situation.

There, the discovery that a proportion of low-grade mechanically recovered beef had been added to “pork” sausages led to a massive collapse in consumer confidence, with product recalls across the country.

Germany was the prime UK outlet for cull sows and until consumer confidence has been re-established sow exporters are having to look for other markets in Europe and beyond, including France, Spain and Russia.

As a result, there is currently a surplus of manufacturing-grade pigmeat throughout much of the EU.

Although this weeks UK cull sow prices have risen by 1-2p/kg, exporters claim this is to do with a rise in the value of the Euro, rather than because of better demand.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry