24 May 1996

Pigs up above post-BSE level

LIVE pig prices leapt again this week, taking averages to nearly 129p/kg.

This 8p/kg-plus increase takes values to above the level recorded after the BSE scare broke, when, in the week to Apr 3, they reached 128.4p/kg.

"Nobody is talking about expanding herds yet," says auctioneer Michael Walters at Bridgnorth, Shropshire, highlighting the widely-held feeling that supplies are set to remain tight.

Bridgnorth saw a top price of 156.4p/kg on Monday, with an overall average of nearly 135p/kg.

Demand, meanwhile, continues strong. Pork has benefited from the decline in beef sales, says auctioneer Simon Draper at Rugby, Warks. And demand has also risen as a result of firming lamb prices over recent weeks. The question now is how long will these prices last.

"Not very long", say many auctioneers, with the prospect of increasing retail resistance and import competition.

But at Thirsk, N Yorks, auctioneer Chris Clubley is a little more bullish, suggesting the excellent trade could last until hotter weather arrives. &#42