Pig price better than expected in post-Christmas demand

A post-Christmas drop-off in demand has prompted only a marginal decline in UK pig prices, according to AHDB Pork.

The EU-spec SPP fell by 0.09p to 162.31p/kg in the week to 18 January, reflecting poorer demand at this time of year.

See also: Outlook 2020: UK pork could gain from world supply problems

However, AHDB analyst Felicity Rusk pointed out that the seasonal price movement was far smaller than would be expected.

At just 0.13p/kg the drop since Christmas is well below the five-year average decline of 2.7p/kg for the first three weeks of the year.

The EU-spec SPP is 23.53p/kg above the same week in January last year.

Slaughterings continue to rise but the figure may have been added to by a seasonal roll-over of pigs following the Christmas holiday, Ms Rusk said.

Weekly estimates suggest 186,900 head were killed – 12,000 pigs more than at the same point last year. 

For the week ending 18 January, 7kg weaner prices recorded a considerable £1.23/head lift to average £42.49/head.

Prices are now almost £7/head above the same week last year.

Global demand

Globally, processors are expecting exports to China to grow in the coming weeks after a lull which was possibly due to the release of 200,000t of frozen pork from state reserves.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Chinese production is expected to be 23% lower than in 2019 as the country continues to struggle with the African Swine Fever outbreak.

As a result the USDA has forecast China’s pork imports will grow by a further 42% to 3.7m tonnes in 2020.  

The vacuum in supply within China and across other Asian countries hit by ASF means many of the key pork exporting nations are expected to show growth.

The US is predicted to increase production by 4% while Brazil’s output is forecast to rise by 5%.

EU growth is forecast lower, at just 1% in 2020.

Even with this growth, the scale of the decline in Asian production means there will be a net decline of 9% in world production to 96.4m tonnes in 2020, the USDA figures suggest.

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