17 February 2000
Bacon giant raises pig price
By Vicky Houchin
A DECISION by Britains biggest bacon group to increase its standard price by 6p/kg has raised hopes that a sustained recovery in the pig industry may be under way.
The announcement by Malton Foods that it is raising its standard price to 76p/kg follows the lead of several other abattoirs.
Dalehead Foods took the lead by raising its 12mm backfat price by 4p to 79p/kg deadweight last Friday.
This was followed by a 5p rise from Glanbia to 80p/kg.
Cranswick Country Foods has put its price up by 4p to 81p/kg and is expecting a further 2p climb on Friday (18 February).
Grampian has notched up a similar increase.
Doug Denny of Dalehead Foods says the rise is the result of a slow improvement in European prices and a shortage of pigs in the UK.
“Slaughtering was down to 270,0000 last week for the first time, and could be down to 260,000 this week.”
Increased sow slaughterings could show a further downturn in killings by April, and prices should reach 1/kg before the end of the year, he predicts.
Mick Sloyan of the Meat and Livestock Commission welcomed the first rise in many months.
He believes the market has now turned the corner, though it is too early to say if it will be sustained.
But farmers still need values to increase another 15p/kg to break even, he adds.
Consultant Peter Crichton says last weeks rise was the result of abattoirs trying to make retailers pay more for the product – a move which is now paying off.
Mr Crichton says talk of 15,000 pigs dying from PDNS is an understatement.
A shortage of pigs combined with firmer futures in Holland all suggest better prices, he adds.
“This is the most encouraging sign weve had for a long time. Store pigs have gone very short and disease is really causing havoc.”
Ian Campbell, of the National Pig Association, says the upward movement needs to be sustained if confidence is to return to farmers – and bankers.
“Banks have been good so far, but the last four months have tested their resolve.”
Pig farmers have seen prices plummet over the past two years.
A recent report said pig producers had directly sustained losses of 105 million and estimated that 25,000 jobs in the pig industry and supporting trades had been lost.
Producers blame their plight on the “BSE tax” – knock-on costs of the BSE crisis – the strength of Sterling, the collapse of eastern European markets and the higher costs of stringent UK welfare regulations.
- Pig crisis threatens 50,000 jobs, FWi, 10 January, 2000
- Aid package angers pig men, FWi, 21 September, 1999
- End of the road for the pig industry? FWi, 14 August 1998