By Peter Crichton
A SHORTAGE of UK pigs is being felt in the marketplace in the run-up to Christmas, and pig prices continue to rise.
Baconer quotes are between 108p and 111p/kg, with the UK AESA over 10p/kg behind this, at 97.90p/kg.
Lighter pigs continue to command a premium, with handy weight porkers and cutters trading up to 118p/kg, with most between 114p and 112p/kg.
However, EU prices are not indicating the levels of buoyancy seen in the UK, with Dutch, German, Danish and Belgian pigs falling to the 80-85p/kg range for a heavy carcass.
With the UK so uncompetitive on exports, virtually no trade of manufacturing pigmeat has been done, even though the export market opened up on 22 October.
However, the picture for cull sows has been transformed, with the pre-22 October price of 25p/kg doubling to 50p/kg now.
Some producers are holding out for further improvement.
This picture could change when export restrictions ease further.
Currently all export consignments of pigs and sows have to receive an on-farm veterinary inspection costing around 150 a visit.
Providing there are no further foot-and-mouth outbreaks, there are hopes that this requirenemt will be lifted in early December.
The 100% separation rules applying to UK export abattoirs are also adding to operating costs and relaxation here could reflect in better producer returns.
Meanwhile, weaner prices continue to lag behind finished pigs, with most quotes between 27 and 30/head ex-farm, compared with 33/head a year ago.
- Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry