Farmer Focus: Current trends could squeeze pig margins

Between March 2019 and July 2020 we have seen a predominantly upward trajectory in pig prices from 137.43p/kg to 165.51p/kg. 

Over the past couple of weeks we have seen a drop of 0.94p/kg and the forecast is that this downward trend may continue as EU prices have stabilised (albeit still at a relatively low level). 

The easing of lockdown measures and consequential resumption of food service is likely to encourage demand for imports from the EU again, particularly with the current strength of the pound.

See also: What’s In Your Livestock Shed visits a dairy to pig conversion in Wales

Furthermore, slaughter numbers have risen and slaughter dates are being rolled over, so pig weights are up, putting more pressure on prices.

We have also received our delivered feed prices for the rest of the year and there’s been a rise of £12.59 a tonne, as fed, across all diets because of cereal prices. This equates to an increase of £35,265 on our annual pig feed bill, so it looks like margins may begin to be squeezed if these trends continue.

In more promising news, the third instalment of the mid-week meals campaign has proved to be a success. Sales of pork medallions are up 35% since the beginning of the campaign (November 2019) with £24m incremental revenue generated for total fresh pork as a result, and pork is increasingly being seen as a versatile product. 

In the three months leading to July, pork sales have risen 16% in volume over the same period last year, and 24% in value.

As I write this, I’ve received the slaughter data from our final load of Duroc-sired pigs. Once again, we’ve seen some brilliant growth, with 10 bacon pigs making it away from the farm at 125 days old and 107kg, meaning they put on an average of more than 1kg a day from weaning.  

The 768 bacon pigs averaged 872g/day from weaning at an average of 149 days old, so outperforming the last Duroc-sired batch which averaged 839g/day gain at 151 days old. I am looking forward to see how they converted their feed.