Thursday, 26 February, 1998

By Peter Crichton

PIG producers report that it is becoming increasingly difficult to increase returns caused by a domestic market flooded with cheap lamb and poultry.

But prices in the live market showed a slight lift this week and producers are hoping that this will be reflected in their end-of-week deadweight quotations. As the period of negative returns continues, many pig producers are trying to claw their way back into profit.

Current deadweight spot quotations are hovering around 85p/kg. Lighter weights command a premium of 5-10p/kg. The UK Spec price for the week ended 12 February stands at 92.35p, down 0.91p on the previous week.

The Meat and Livestock Commission predicts that a significant upturn in prices will remain elusive until the end of this year. And Mick Sloyan, MLC pig strategy manager has said producers must realise whatever happens on the European market will have a direct influence on pig prices and supply in the UK.

UK sow slaughterings are up 21% on the same period last year. But producers will only be able to take comfort from this if the same trend is repeated in Europe and pigmeat demand remains strong.