By Peter Crichton

PREDICTIONS of a substantial rally in spot pig prices first reported in last weeks FWi have proved correct.

Although UK auction markets only handle about 5% of national throughput spot buyers have had to go to market to top up dwindling supplies of live pigs.

As a result auction prices have shot up to reach an average all pigs figure of 73.85p on 8 April equivalent to 98p/kg deadweight.

This flags up an early warning that spot pigs are hard to find and many abattoirs will have to pump more money into the product to leave a margin.

At the same time many contract buyers are looking for extra pigs but with a gap of over 10p/kg opening up between spot and contract returns very few spare pigs will be added to contracts by hard pressed UK producers.

The difference between spot and contract prices is further illustrated by publication of the latest UK AESA for the week ending 3 April, standing at just 79.77p/kg whereas Fridays deadweight quotes are expected to touch 90p/kg for baconers.

Weaner prices have for the past two months reflected the current shortage of numbers available and this weeks combined east/west/north 30kg weaner quote stands at £29.57/head ex farm.

More good news for producers comes in the latest announcement from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that supermarket profits are to come under the scrutiny from the newly formed Competition Commission.

This decision follows a highly critical Agriculture Select Committee report on the UK pig industry which also expressed concern over the buying power that the major supermarkets have over the industry.

All sectors of agriculture seem to have been price takers when dealing with the major retailers according to recent reports and they point to the 400% farmgate to retail mark-up in the pig sector.