The National Pig Association (NPA) has said the most eye-catching aspect of the latest pig market data is the “plummet” in slaughter numbers.

Although subject to revision, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s (AHDB) weekly GB slaughterings are at 141,000 for the week ended March 16.

This would mean slaughterings are at their lowest level, outside of Christmas and New Year, since April 2010. 

Estimated GB slaughterings for the week were nearly 6,000 down on the previous week, 20,000 below the same week a year ago and 34,000 below the 2022 figure.

The NPA said this drop off appears to be a combination of the vastly reduced breeding herd, combined with productivity issues, partly the result of the “relentless wet weather”. 

Pig prices

The EU-spec standard pig price (SPP) lost 0.18p to stand at 211.31p/kg during the week ended March 16, following the previous week’s 00.16p increase.

It has been extremely stable since the end of January, when it stood at 211.38p/kg, fluctuating up and down by tiny amounts since, and is now roughly back to where it was, the NPA said.

“It is now, however, for the first time in a very long time, now more than 1p behind the SPP of a year ago, which stood at 212.53p/kg, at a time when pig prices were still rising at a decent rate.”

The more volatile all pig price (APP), which includes premium pigs, gained 1.2p during the week ended March 9 to stand at 211.63p/kg.

This cancels out the declines of the previous fortnight and put it back ahead of the SPP for the week by just 0.14p/kg.

“Despite the latest reverse, many within the industry remain optimistic that the combination of tightening supplies and rising EU markets will support the market over the coming weeks,” the NPA said.

“The UK-EU price gap continues to narrow. The EU reference price was up another 2p to 184.73p/kg during the week ended March 10, with increases across the board among the big EU pork producers.

“It is now less than 24p behind the UK reference price, compared with 37p only a few weeks ago, with the potential for this to narrow further.”

Carcase weights remain high with the average in the SPP sample dropping back slightly to 91.15kg during the week ended March 17, 0.9kg up on the same week in 2023.

London feed wheat was quoted by AHDB on Wednesday at around £163/tonne for March, £3 up on last week, £169/t for May and £189/t for November 2024, the same as last week.