Pig sector expresses frustration as prices fall despite buoyant markets

The National Pig Association's (NPA) said the fall in price is 'very disappointing'
The National Pig Association's (NPA) said the fall in price is 'very disappointing'

The British pig sector has expressed frustration at the latest fall in the Standard Pig Price (SPP) at a time when markets are buoyant on the back of increased demand from China.

After a few weeks of small increases, the EU-spec SPP recorded a week-on-week decline of 0.23p, to stand at 137.73p/kg last week. The measure remains well below year earlier levels.

AHDB said the disappointing prices might be linked in part to uncertainty over Brexit. Last week, it cited industry reports suggesting processors have been stockpiling product in cold stores in order to prepare for Brexit, which is having a negative effect on demand.

This week’s AHDB report said estimated slaughterings were up on the previous week to 176,000 head.

A rise was expected after reports of an issue at one processor last week, causing pigs to be rolled into this week. Carcase weights increased to average 85.22 kg which could also be reflective of pigs being rolled.

The EU-spec APP, reflecting recent trends in the SPP, increased by 0.39p to 143.16p/kg in the week ending March 23.

Nonetheless the fall in the SPP comes as a disappointment at a time when the EU market is on the up due to additional demand from China, reeling from the impact of its African swine fever outbreak.

“After a mushrooming boost in demand for pork imports into China, the pig market is booming throughout Europe,” an update from the European Pig Producers (EPP) email update stated.

A number of EU member states are recording ‘clear increases’, including Belgium, Germany, in the Netherlands, and Austria, which all recorded increases of around 10-11 eurocents/kg. More moderate, but still significant increases were seen in France, in Denmark, and Spain.

The National Pig Association's (NPA) chief executive, Zoe Davie said the fall in price is 'very disappointing' at a time when all the indicators appear to be supporting a price rise and every other market appears to be heading in that direction.

She said: “We will be looking closely, with AHDB, into the reasons why this has happened. During this difficult period, with the outlook still uncertain, we expect pork processors to be supporting British pig production – we have already picked up a lot of anger among our membership that this appears not to be the case.”