Pig prices see early dip

Producers’ pig prices have eased a little earlier than expected this year, but future prospects are positive, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

The Scottish organisation said the usual seasonal profile saw producers’ pig prices climb from February to an annual high in late July or August, before falling back towards autumn. However, QMS reported that, this year, prices have already started to dip over the last couple of weeks.

Stuart Ashworth, QMS head of economics services, said this was mainly due to an increase in the number of pigs reaching abattoirs, which also have higher carcase weights. “This earlier movement in price means that although the producer price remains historically high for the time of year, it is around 3% lower than this time last year.
“Recently released slaughter numbers show the UK kill in May was 2.5% higher than last year and, with carcase weights 2kg higher than last year, production is clearly substantially higher. With the December 2013 census reporting an increase in piglets on UK farms at that time, this increase in volumes reaching abattoirs is not unexpected,” he added.

There has also been disruption to the market due to Russian restrictions following the discovery of African Swine Fever in Poland. Ashworth said: “Such is the importance of this market (Russia), the European Union instigated a dispute resolution process with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in April. However, prices quickly recovered as the EU took advantage of the disruption to wider global supplies created by the presence of the porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) in North America, to grow exports to Asia.”

He said that longer-term prospects for the pig sector remained positive: “As a whole the European Union is expected to be slightly less well supplied with pigmeat during 2014 than last year and that should hold prices firm.
“A swift resolution to the EU application to the WTO in respect of Russian trade should help prices and sentiment. However, with Russian consumers reported to be facing retail prices for pork 2.5 times higher than last year, the situation of trade between Russia and the EU may be resolved more quickly than expected.”

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