15 September 2000

By Peter Crichton

IN the market place demand remains dull for the time of year in spite of the shortage of pigs on offer because of the CSF situation and a drop in the size of the UK herd. The latest GB AESA remains unchanged at 102.43 and could weaken a touch next week.

The newly published Signet June pig census flags up a 9.4% drop in the size of the domestic herd. This now stands at 624,000 head compared with 802,000 in December 1998.

The year 2000 estimated finished pig slaughter total is below 13 million and forecast to fall further next year. At the same time imports to the UK remain at high levels and with the Euro lagging at 61p they are likely to continue to undercut the home market.

Producers have commented on the irony of the CSF situation following a recent MAFF report that the CSF virus had probably reached the UK in imported pigmeat.

Although the UK fuel crisis may be drawing to a close it has caused major disruption to all sectors of the industry. The latest CSF on farm slaughter programme had to be suspended on Thursday because the rendering plants used for carcass disposal had run out of fuel.

Compounders are running short of feed ingredients with many of their inwards and outwards hauliers out of fuel. Malton Foods, the UKs largest abattoir has cut their kill because of fuel related labour and delivery problems and many other processors have also had to scale back numbers handled.

There are industry concerns that once the fuel situation eases and some further pigs are released from surveillance zones this could lead to a mini “glut” of pigs and drive prices down further in line with other EU countries which have fallen to 66p per kg in Spain and 80p in Holland.