Pig prices have risen for the first time since the traditional post-Christmas lull, according to figures published by AHDB Pork.
Prices had dropped by 0.13p/kg across the weeks after Christmas, reflecting a seasonal drop in demand and roll-over of pigs following the holiday.
But the latest figure for the week ended 25 January, shows the UK’s EU-spec SPP has risen by 0.23p/kg compared to a week earlier.
It now stands at 162.54p/kg which is 23.82p/kg higher than the same week in 2019 and more than 24p/kg over the five-year average.
AHDB analyst Jennie Tanner said the increase was influenced by a 2.07p/kg increase in prices for pigs at weights of 100kg and over.
That took values for pigs in the weight band to 148.30p/kg. There were also fewer pigs at this weight. Average carcass weights fell this week (-550g) to 85.75kg.
Despite the reduction, it is still more than 200g higher than last year.
Supplies appear to have levelled out with any extra pigs in the system since Christmas now processed. Estimated slaughter for the week totalled 184,000 head, 2,900 head lower than the previous week.
The 7kg weaner price dropped back, although the price remains relatively firm at more than £7/head above last year and the five-year average.
Prices continue to be driven upwards by the impact of African Swine Fever in China and other Asian countries.
Production has been devastated in the Far East, leaving a void in supply that has seen a huge increase in imports.
The ongoing need for supplies to fill the gap for pork in China has maintained upward pressure on prices.
The latest week (w/e 15 January) shows prices increased by a further 2.1% to a record high of equating to roughly £3.93/kg.
In Europe overall prices fell back by 1.2% across the EU 28.
Within the general figure member states saw conflicting fortunes as some countries enjoyed rising prices while others reported a significant decline.
Germany recorded the biggest uplift of just over 1% to €1.88/kg (159p/kg). In contrast, countries hit by the disease further east saw prices drop back.
Of those, Romania suffered the greatest drop, of 4.7% to 172p/kg. Other eastern European countries also saw declines of between 2.3% and 2.9%, including Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia where prices stood at about 160p/kg.
While pig prices in the UK have crept up, industry expert Peter Crichton pointed out that feed prices too are “continuing to nudge up, with UK ex-farm spot feed wheat trading in the £148 region”.
“Futures prices are also continuing to reflect relatively firm prices, with UK feed wheat quoted at £157/t for March and £166/t for September,” Mr Crichton said.
Barley is trading at a £20-£22/t discount at £135/t for March and £141/t for September.
However, soya prices remain largely static, with Hipro soya values at £305/t for March, £294/t for June-October and £301/t for November-April 2021, he added.