Price Surge Continues into 2009

AUSTRALIA - In 15 years of coordinating the weekly pig sales in Toowoomba, Queensland, store pig prices have never before reached the heights they have this week.
calendar icon 7 January 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

This was the comment by Elders livestock salesman, Errol Luck, according to Farmonline of Australia.

"I've never seen them so dear," he said following Monday's weekly sale, the opening pig sale of 2009. "The producers are all wearing grins like split watermelons."

A national shortage of pigs has forced prices to record levels.

It is a hard-earned reward for producers who have been able to survive a long-running war of attrition in an industry caught in a tight squeeze.

For too long, they've been hit by high feed grain prices on one hand and increased competition from low-priced pigmeat imports, until the pst few months, on the other.

Mr Luck said hundreds of small to medium sized producers had been forced to leave the industry because of unprofitable prices in recent years.

But the resulting shortage of pigs is now rewarding with higher prices those who have been able to stick it out.

Elders yarded just 209 pigs at the opening Toowoomba sale on Monday, which compared to 500 pigs at the equivalent opening sale last year.

Prices this year were at least $1/kg liveweight higher, with prime pork pigs selling for $3.29 to $3.63/kg liveweight, prime light bacon selling from $3.20 to $3.51, sows from $1.20 to $1.32, forward stores from $140 to $170, weaners from $102 to $135 and suckers from $60 to $82.

"Anything over $3/kg live is a quite a tidy little price for producers," Mr Luck said.

Demand for pork for the looming Chinese New Year celebrations later this month is further adding to the upward pressure on prices. Mr Luck said buyers from Sydney, who rarely ventured outside New South Wales' borders to secure their pig meat requirements, had been buying regularly at Toowoomba for the past three months.

The big question is: how long the good prices can last?

"The shortage of numbers is going to keep prices up, and I think it will be a very strong market in the next few months," he said.

Despite the high prices, he suggests producers will not yet be queuing up to get back into the industry.

"A few of will go back in a little bit, but they'll want to see a bit more strength in the market for a good length of time before they commit themselves back, in I think," he told Farmonline.

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