A Day Best Forgotten

UK - Prices are still easing with the DAPP down 0.58p and Tulip back 2p. Better retail demand would help but until then demands remains fickle and spot base is set at 146p, writes Peter Crichton.
calendar icon 1 August 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

Selling pigs last Friday was not for novices. With the lethal combination of rising numbers and falling demand, you certainly knew who your friends were (or were not) in the abattoir sector.

Although the DAPP dropped only 0.58p to stand at 152.34p, it was no surprise to see Tulip reduce its shout price from 151p to 149p and even less of a surprise when the other big three contract pig buyers followed suit and the medal card reads as follows:

  • Gold: Woodhead 150p
  • Silver: Tulip 149p
  • Bronze: Vion 147p
  • Lead: Cranswick 146.5p

However, the spot market proved to be an even more difficult sector to operate in and although one or two of the warmer-hearted operators out there were still prepared to pay spot bacon prices in the 146p–148p range to regulars, occasional sellers were receiving bids of 2p–4p below this but very little space was available, so the good news is that not much trade was done at this level.

One more positive factor was that despite all the economic turmoil in some of the more fragile European Union member countries' economies, as one financial commentator observed it is more a case of a weak pound than a strong Euro but in any event, the value of the Euro has a huge effect on the viability (or otherwise) on the British pig industry and closed on Friday worth 87.66p which is only 0.7 per cent down on the week.

As a result, the cull sow sector was an area where buyers were actually looking for, rather than at throughput – and cull sow quotes were generally available at positive stand-on levels with no quotes worth listening to at less than 100p and sellers with large loads prepared to get bids of 4p–6p above this, although with a wide range of killing-out percentages of between 64 percent and 68 percent it is difficult to make a straight comparison on a price-only basis.

The disturbing images recently released by Animal Aid of alleged welfare abuse at the Cheales abattoir follows similar problems that occurred at A and G Barbers nearby last year but also makes us wonder why such large fees are paid for government vets who are meant to ensure that hygiene and animal welfare standards are maintained but appear to have proved to be completely ineffective for the second time in a relatively short period, to the detriment of animal welfare and the image of the British pig industry as a whole.

The weaner market remains an extremely difficult sector for sellers with very little space available and other than those sellers with a secure contract locked away in the safe, remains very much a buyers' market with the latest Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board 30kg ex-farm weaner average stuck at £45.61 per head and signs of further downward pressure in the weeks ahead.

For all the reasons stated in this report, Friday 29 July 2011 is a date best forgotten.

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