Still hard going for pigmeat exports

By Peter Crichton

THE recent fall in the value of the Pound has helped the UK pigmeat industry to regain some of its competitive edge. However, exporters indicate that with large supplies if pigmeat available throughout the EU and from the USA it is still hard to penetrate other markets.

Prices on the UK market continue to show a sluggish recovery and for the first time for many months the AESA recorded the first rise of 0.5p to 60.1p/kg deadweight for the week ending 5 October.

Spot finished pig prices have for the first time this year almost matched contract figures with baconers traded in the 56-60p range and lighter pigs 2-4p over this but the surge in prices expected by many producers has failed to materialise.

According to Signet this could be due to the large 420% mark up between farm gate and counter, with retailers preferring to work on high profits and low turnover rather than vice versa.

Stewart Houston, the Pig Support Group chairman, argues that better promotion would stimulate consumer demand and help to narrow the gap between supermarket tills and pig producers bank borrowings.

Weaner prices are also starting to reflect the slight shortage now filtering down following many months of high breeding herd slaughterings with spot prices for all three UK regions a touch firmer to average £11.20/head compared with £10.51 last week.

UK breeders are still reported to be facing losses of up to £20 for every pig marketed and receivers are being called in at an increasing rate to wind up breeders who have run out of cash.

Many UK producers are now looking at the year end as a target date to determine if they can afford to continue in production or pull the plug.

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

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