By Simon Wragg

A DIP in pig prices gave cause for concern over Easter. While spot prices have recovered, auctioneers say further increases may encourage imports.

Recent trade at Selby, Yorkshire, saw pig prices bounce back by 4p/kg to reach 70p/kg liveweight, reports auctioneer Chris Clubley.

This was welcomed by hard-pressed producers. “But I fear further increases may be capped.

“The strength of Sterling and availability of imports is likely to kick in at these prices,” he warns.

Rugby-based auctioneer Graham Young agrees, adding that differences between processor contract prices and spot markets was creating further uncertainty.

Despite this, trade for the entry of 400 pigs was strong last Monday at Rugby with porkers hitting 76p/kg liveweight and bacon pigs in at 70p/kg.

According to MLCs senior economic analyst Tony Fowler, the Easter price dip only had a minor affect on the AESA figure.

This fell by 0.28p to 80.21p/kg deadweight last week. Prospects for a recovery and further increases looks likely.

Domestic supplies remain tight following last years fall in the UK sow herd. Pigs marketed have fallen by 40,000 from the end of last year to 280,000 a week at present.

A further fall of 20,000 pigs a week is expected by the last quarter of this year, according to MLC figures.

Mr Fowler adds: “Theres some truth that availability of imports may cap prices, but if buyers commitment to source high-welfare domestic supplies holds true, theres potential to maintain prices over EU averages.”