By Peter Crichton

MEAT traders have pointed to a number of factors that are adding downward pressure on the whole market.

The turmoil in Russia has effectively sealed off a valuable export market where up to 30% of Danish output was targeted. Many EU exports either via or directly from Germany also ended up on Russian meat counters.

This will have a major impact on the manufacturing pig and sow market at a time when most of the EU is saturated with pigmeat.

Despite the protests in May when Malton announced it was dropping its AAPP-related contracts in favour of a fixed price the Yorkshire company now has the best price on offer in the industry at 65p/kg. At the same time the price was announced, it was widely believed, according to press comments, that the fixed price would apply until the end of the year.

It may be that to remain competitive Malton, which accounted for about 35% of the UK kill, will offer a similar either/or package. The producer could choose to pay a figure of about 70p now and remain on their suppliers list into 1999. Alternatively they could stick with the 84p and face the possibility of ending up on the spot market next year.

Weaner prices throughout the UK have continued to plunge with many 7kg pigs reported at “nil” value and 30kg figures as low as £8 per head against a production cost of £30 per head.

In Northern Ireland, Government funding is now being pumped in to provide an emergency rescue package to relieve the 20,000 extra pigs in the system as a result of the Ballymoney abattoir fire.

This aid however, only amounts to a flat rate of £30 per head for 110kg as well as non breeding pigs compared to a production cost of over £70m per head.