Pig Industry Finishes Strong in 2011

UK - The end of the year normally marks a good time for a look back and a look ahead and on this occasion the pig industry has finished 2011 in a much stronger condition than at the start, writes Peter Crichton in his Traffic Lights commentary for 23 December.
calendar icon 28 December 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

Although there were some signs earlier in the week that shout price buyers might try and take a leaf out of Mr Scrooge's book, as it turned out most quotes were at generally positive stand-on levels with the odd copper or two more available from some outlets with spot bacon mainly traded in the 145p–150p range according to specification.

0 1 January 2011 23 December 2011
DAPP 137.42p 147.66p
Spot bacon average 136.50p 147.75p
Tulip shout price 134.00p 146.00p
AHDB weaner price 341.69/head 344.12/head
Sow price 90p/kg 115p/kg
Wheat ex-farm 3193.20/t 3139.80/t
Euro 83.30p 83.36p

All of the shout prices remained unchanged following Tulip's decision to stand on at 146p last night, but it will be interesting to see how this much criticised pricing system stands up to the test next year when spot prices are expected to improve.

The latest placings in the shout price Partridge-in-a-Pear-Tree table are:

Partridge — Gill, Woodhead 148p
Turtle dove — Tulip 146p
French hens — Cranswick, Vion 144p

Despite turmoil in eurozone countries, a glance at the chart above reveals that the euro is worth almost exactly the same as at the start of the year, but producers are reminded of the instant effect any changes in the value of the euro can have on the price of imports and the value of cull sow exports.

On the subject of cull sows, this sector is showing the largest overall price rise since January, helped by much more competition now that we have Dawkins with an additional slaughter plant in Suffolk, and Cranswick are putting large volumes through their Watton Norfolk plant as well, so the number of outlets has effectively doubled and with transport costs continuing to rise two new East Anglian outlets have come as an early Christmas present to owners of breeding herds in the region.

Although very few culls are being moved next week, prices were generally holding firm in the 115p region, but shrewd sellers were still able to get a premium of a copper of two, space permitting. With reports of better home demand for sow manufacturing meat rather than it going to Europe, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on the overall market, especially at a time when sausage sales are soaring.

Weaner prices continued to recover after hitting a very flat spot in the middle of the year with the latest Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board 30kg ex-farm weaner average rising to 344.12/head now that finishers have been able to lock in to cheaper rations due to falling cereal and soya prices.

The latest HGCA ex-farm feed wheat price is now 3139/tonne and those who claim to know about these things are not suggesting any sharp prices rises in the next few months, but bear in mind that currency movements or the Chinese clicking their fingers for an extra few boat-loads can soon move the market one way or the other.

With the Olympics to look forward to in 2012 hopefully our beloved pig industry will remain as one of the winners rather than losers next year.

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