Pig marketings likely to rise again this year
LATEST census figures from MAFF suggest that big numbers of pigs will hit the market this year.
Final June data shows a 6% growth in the breeding herd. And, according to the Meat and Livestock Commission, although this then slowed, a 5% expansion can be expected from the December figures.
The result, says the MLC, is that clean pig slaughterings will remain higher than year-earlier levels throughout 1998.
But reports are coming from live auction marts of tightening supplies, and with them, a slight upturn in prices.
"Struggling to find the numbers," says Mike Carter at Banbury, Oxon. And it will, he says, be the supply and demand balance which will determine prices, rather than other factors such as seasonal trends. "I have known pigs more expensive in July in a heatwave than in the middle of winter when numbers have been plentiful."
Weaners also are in short supply, which suggests a tightening of supplies later in the year, says Mr Carter. "We have seen them a lot dearer, but we have seen them a lot cheaper than this over the past six months, too."
The big question now is whether the slight upturn in trade will continue. "It is nothing to rave about; for some people, it just means they are not quite so far below production costs."
According to Nigel Stephenson at York, the tightening of numbers reflects the lag effect after health problems last year.
• Spot prices on Monday in England and Wales were up more than 2p/kg to 74.83p/kg lw. *
Nothing to snout about… pig prices may have turned up slightly – but whether this upward trend will continue is anyones guess.
UK census (000 head)
June 1997 (Final)
97 % change
Sows in-pig 517 +5.9
Gilts in-pig 116 +9.5
Other sows 161 +4.1