Pig industry in crisis as prices hit 60-year low

By Robert Harris

PIG prices have slumped to their lowest level for more than 60 years, bringing the industry to the point of collapse, with many producers expected to quit in the face of mounting losses.

“Disaster is staring the industry in the face,” said Grenville Welsh, chief executive of the British Pig Association.

Pigmeat exports such as shoulders and bellies have climbed with increased UK production, but once the strong Pound means farmers are getting far less for overseas sales.

Exports are up 9% this year to 191,000 tonnes, driven by the need to balance UK cuts.

The Adjusted Euro Spec Average price is currently just 82.27p/kg deadweight, more than 3p less than last week and almost 40p down year on year.

Pig producers selling on contracts at 84p/kg deadweight are losing about £13 per pig after deductions for levy and inspection fees. This weeks spot price of 55p/kg means the 30% of producers using live auctions are losing £30 per pig.

The main causes of the price crash are overproduction in the UK and Europe and the strong Pound, said Mick Sloyan of the Meat and Livestock Commission.

The main hope, experts agree, is for UK pigmeat to be promoted on the back of welfare reforms. The UK pigmeat market is only 78% self-sufficient, according to MLC figures. But placing more UK product on supermarket shelves is likely to be tricky.

NFU pigs committee chairman, Graham England said: “Some retailers have remained loyal, offering shoppers the choice of high-welfare British product. But others have dumped us completely. So all pricing is to the lowest common denominator.”

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