A global tightening of pig supplies as a result of African swine fever culling in China has elevated pig prices 15-20% across the board since last spring.
National average store and weaner pig prices were up on the year 18-20% and 14%, respectively, in February, according to AHDB Pork figures.
Data from average sales of young pigs exchanged between marketing groups reveals an average of £57.99 a head for store pigs (30kg) and £42.20 for weaners (7kg).
Hereford market’s pig values were firm in February and started March on a very strong footing last week (5 March).
A lower entry than normal of 140 pigs included a quality consignment of 30 white store pigs that made £44 a head, with some plainer coloured stores at £19 a head.
Auctioneer Andrew Edwards said weaner and store pigs were up 20% on the year, and, barring a post-Christmas lull, there had been a good trade on all sections since November.
Quality white porkers ranged from £70-£126 a head and cull sows and boars were a very strong trade with better quality cull sows making £130-£202 and cull boars at £120-£125.
Rough-coated, coloured, outdoor pigs were, as ever, harder to sell and really only wanted for niche markets, Mr Edwards added.
He said coronavirus had not yet affected the pig trade, although weaners were a slightly more selective trade of late; he suggested this could be weather-related.
“Prices could go either way. There is a possibility that home meat trade could improve as the public might appreciate UK reared livestock more, rather than importing meat.
“There aren’t many pig markets around anymore, which is partly why we’ve had buyers from as far as Dorset, Kent and Yorkshire. It’s a good way of getting young people interested in farming and is an entry enterprise.”
An entry of 63 store and weaner pigs topped with weaners at £42 and the best end of the weaners selling between £25 and £35, with others at £15 to £22.
Ben Baggott, auctioneer at Barbers, said that 12-18kg weaners had generally been making about £30-£35, but that the pig market was, as ever, “boom and bust and difficult to call”.
He said weaners could be £50 one week and £25 the next, although prices in general were dearer than a year ago.