By Peter Crichton

RECENT reports of shortage in the UK pig pipeline are starting to prove correct on a number of fronts.

A potential “black hole” was flagged up in FWi reports on 20 April, and since then numbers have continued to decline.

There are a number of reasons for this. However the most immediate effect is being felt in the market place.

UK spot quotes are rising sharply as abattoirs compete for a dwindling supply and spot baconers are expected to hit the 106/110p/kg range next week.

Contract prices are also on the move, with the GB AESA standing at 97.41p/kg up 0.54p on the week.

However the AESA still has a lot of catching up to do over the next few weeks and is forecast to breach the 100p barrier by the end of June.

A shortage of pigs spells bad news for abattoirs. The latest Malton Bacon factory results show just how vulnerable this sector is.

For the year ending 31 March, Maltons sales fell by 10% and because of a reduction in slaughtering capacity a 15 million profit the previous year has been turned into a 11.4m loss.

Uniq, the parent company, is quoted to “exit or significantly reduce” its involvement in Malton according to press sources.

However a closure of the Malton operation would hit pig producers hard, especially in the North, and there are hopes that the business will be sold as a going concern rather than shut down.

Trade sources speak of interest from another large processor group in the North but this has yet to be confirmed.

Abattoirs can be notoriously difficult to sell as the receiver of Hutsons (Beccles) has found out to the creditors cost.

This plant has now been shut down and the workforce dismissed in spite of what the receive reported to be “strong buyer interest”.

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