24 July 1998

MLCsays weaner price slumped to 10-year low

WEANER prices have fallen to their lowest levels for over a decade, reports the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Over the past six weeks, spot prices have fallen by more than £4 to a low of £20.49 a head. In some regions, averages of £18 a head have been reported.

Several factors account for the slump, including a flooded market, low finished pig prices and recent changes in pricing structures.

June averages were £16.60 a head down year on year, and the latest weekly gap is £14 lower. Weaner supplies are unlikely to diminish until the final quarter of the year, so prices are likely to remain depressed until then.

"There are signs that producers are cutting back after expanding on the back of good prices in 1996 and early 1997," says Jane Connor of the MLC. "But it will take a while for the effect to come through."

Finished pig prices fell again on Monday, with the auction mart average down nearly 6p/kg to 52p/kg lw.

lPork purchases rose 3% for the month ending Jun 28, according to Audits of Great Britain data. But spending was still 9% lower than the same period in 1997. Pork roasting joint purchases rose by 3%, due to lower prices and poor weather. The biggest gain was seen with shoulder roasts, as prices were 6% cheaper than the previous month, and a third lower year on year. Purchases of this cut rose 9%. Wafer-thin and honey roast ham sales increased by 31% and 22% by volume, respectively. &#42