21 April 2000

Pig meat demand from Japanese

By Simon Wragg

PIG prices have continued to gain ground with traders reporting greater demand for EU pigmeat on the world market.

An outbreak of foot and mouth disease in South Korea has created demand from Japan, which has suspended Korean imports. That has created an opportunity for European supplies, notably from Ireland which exports 10,000t to the region annually. The EU trade has been helped by the rise of the US$ which puts a brake on one of its main competitors.

This, coupled with falling herd sizes in most member states, has pushed average EU pig prices up by 19% since the beginning of the year to l135/100kg (81p/kg), reports Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board.

These better prices saw the EU Commission cut export refunds for the second month running, with 30% off fresh and frozen cuts and 20% off processed products. However, this was largely anticipated by the trade.

Domestic markets are seeing a steady rise in the adjusted eurospec average which stood at 92.58p/kg earlier this week. Spot prices have gained some ground encouraging processors to review contracts.

Dalehead lifted its maximum to 94p/kg deadweight before offal and other deductions, and MLC levies. Part of the increase has been funded by taking a penny off the purchase price of spot pigs to redress the balance for tied-in producers, says the company.

At the same time, Glanbia reviewed its payment to 93.5p/kg. Malton Bacon also raised its contract to 88p/kg before quality and consistency bonuses which could add up to 7p/kg.

With three short weeks ahead over the bank holiday period theres likely to be less need for spot buying and markets could ease, suggest buyers. It is also unlikely that contracts will change drastically.

Cull sow slaughtering continues apace. Monthly totals are now below 7000 head for the first time for many months, although that is still higher than the same month last year.

Export trade remains strong – particularly to Germany – and volumes are up 18% on last year. Prices are currently about 42p/kg live. &#42