Shortage shows in pig prices

By Peter Crichton

MAFF has announced that a further surveillance zone on the Norfolk/Suffolk border is being lifted today (24 November).

This will free up a further 150 pig units holding a total of 36,000 pigs in all weight ranges.

However only an estimated 10-15% of this total will fall into killing weight ranges.

This is not expected to adversely affect prices outside the region due to the national shortage of pigs.

Further evidence of the shortage of spot pigs was seen in the auction markets this week.

Abattoirs looking to top up dwindling numbers were forced into the sale rings where, by the end of the week, liveweight prices averaged 87p/kg, equivalent to a soaring 119p/kg deadweight.

Although the GB AESA only managed a modest increase of 0.21p/kg to stand at 103.54p for the week ending 18 November, further steeper increases are forecast in the run up to Christmas.

Contract sellers are also being tempted into open market which will also drive contract based abattoirs on to the spot market to replace the lost pigs.

Domestic prices are being helped by the BSE crisis in France and other EU countries, as better demand for pork and poultry has driven up white meat prices in Europe.

As a result, pigment destined for the UK is now being switched into BSE-affected markets and leading to better demand for non meat and bonemeal fed UK pork.

The Dutch AEX futures market continues to reflect a stable outlook throughout much of Europe and closed sharply higher at 89p for November and 86p for December for heavy pigs.

According to Signet, the farmgate-to-retail price spread continues to narrow and stood at 253% for October, down from 350% a year earlier.

This has moved largely due to higher producer returns rather than lower retail prices.

The Food Standards Agency announced on 23 November that it plans to push for compulsory labelling for all imported meat products to the UK.

This labelling will include the country of origin, and UK producers believe that this will strengthen consumer confidence in domestic pigmeat. The MLC claims that our meat safety standards are among the highest in the world.

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

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