Prices Surge Ahead

UK - Friday the 13th has certainly proved to be a lucky rather than an unlucky day for pig sellers, writes Peter Crichton in his Traffic Lights commentary.
calendar icon 14 February 2009
clock icon 5 minute read

Spot quotes today continue to move sharply higher and in horseracing terms the field was greatly helped by a couple of pacemakers which meant that others in the race had to get their whips out to keep up.

As a result although some spot bacon buyers were hoping to buy at circa 140p, earlier mid-week phone calls had indicated that the market was unlikely to move ahead by much more than this.

Most spot bacon sellers were able to achieve a minimum price of 143p on wide spec contracts and as the day wore on prices 2–4p ahead of this were available, although in some cases these were tied to a generally tighter weight/grade spec.

Rumours were also circulating that one or two shrewd sellers might have agreed deals at circa 150p, but this proved to be exception rather than the rule.

A feature of the trade is that “a one price pig” seems to be the order of the day with some processors also prepared to move up their weight ranges. This was confirmed by Woodheads going up from 85kg to 90kg and attracting a growing share of the market with positive buying tactics from their new Spalding abattoir, which is conveniently situated almost midway between East Anglia and Yorkshire.

A glance across the Channel however reveals a somewhat different picture with many European Union mainland producers either breaking even or making a loss, whereas United Kingdom sellers are continuing to benefit from a strong euro and the Jamie Oliver effect.

For this reason imports remain a threat and will become more so if the £ gains in value.

But when compared with deadweight lamb quotes of circa 370p/kg and beef over 280p/kg, pork is still a very good value alternative at the meat counter.

The DAPP which took another upward step this week now stands at 134.97p and is also expected to make significant upward progress in the weeks ahead reflecting much better spot prices with lower proportion of contract pigs being included in the sample.

Cull sow quotes have now started to edge ahead after several weeks of falling prices and have been helped by something of a recovery in the value of the euro, which on Friday closed at circa 89p.

Export sow abattoirs remain very short of throughput and because of this were generally tendering improved prices in the 116–118p range according to load size and specification.

The weaner market has always provided an early indicator of what lies ahead and further reports of shrinking numbers due to a mixture of infertility problems last summer/autumn, the recent cold snap and further reductions in the size of the United Kingdom herd, have all conspired to continue to tighten weaner supplies.

The AHDB 30kg weaner average of £46.90/head is still lagging behind recent trades and the £50 weaner has now become a reality.

On a more serious note swine dysentery is once again rearing its ugly head (or backside) on some East Anglian units.

Any producers who are not members of the East of England Swine Dysentery Producer Charter should sign up and they will then know where the outbreaks are and be able to tighten up on their bio-security, livestock haulage and carcass collection arrangements, all of which can spread this deadly bug.

So to avoid to saying “bloody hell” one morning, pig producers should check their pigs and if they have any suspicions (however remote) that their units are affected, get the vet in to have a closer look.

Abattoirs could also help to break the link between pigs and haulage by improving their lorry washes and moving away from the garden hose and watering can era by upgrading their washes to very high pressure systems and plenty of disinfectant.

Bowes of Norfolk are one on the best in this respect, but in school report terms many others “could do better”. Unless livestock trucks are biologically clean there is probably no way in which further infections can be avoided.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on Swine Dysentery by clicking here.
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