Pig market continues upward trend

Thursday 12 March, 1998

By Peter Crichton

PIG prices continued their modest upward progress this week, with recent live auction figures leading the way.

Most weights are now trading in a tight band of 75-80p/ kg. Last Fridays deadweight quotes were mainly 94-100p/ kg according to carcass weight.

These prices are expected to be maintained for next week, despite a possible wave of heavy pigs coming on to the European market after the relaxation of Classical Swine Fever zone restrictions in Holland.

This surge in supplies at the heavy end of the weight range has pressured cull sow quotations, however. Euro-dressed prices have slipped back from about 78p to 72p/ kg deadweight.

The adjusted UK Spec GB price for last week ended at 94.57p/ kg — virtually unchanged on the previous week and now 2-3p behind spot quotes.

At 94.52p/ kg, the UK Reference price is more competitive than many European producer and consumer countries. The latest figures available for the other major players on 22 February were: 98.74p/ kg (Belgium), 81.52 (Denmark), 100.50 (Germany), 99.25 (Spain), 96.96 (France), 86.50 (Eire), 114.83 (Italy), and 86.76 (Holland).

Although Danish and Dutch prices are lower than domestic values, their carcass weights are significantly heavier. An adjusted figure to account for this would produce a Reference Price much nearer to the UK quote.

It appears that the UK producer return of around 95p/ kg will be maintained, at least for the time being. But if it rises much above current levels, imports could be sucked in and UK export opportunities will diminish.

Meanwhile, meat traders are quoted as saying that a real boost will only come if Sterling weakens significantly. Traders say this is unlikely in the short term, although it remains to be seen whether next weeks Budget will have any influence on exchange rates.

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  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry

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