EU sow prices surge in 2016

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As with finished pig prices, EU sow prices during the latter half of 2016 recovered significantly from the historic lows experienced at the start of the year.

Last January, cull sow prices in the important German market reached the lowest level since 2011, at 94c/kg. However, prices recovered significantly from June onwards. Similar trends were also seen in the other key member states of Denmark, France and the Netherlands. This price recovery was spearheaded by strong Chinese demand in a background of tightening supplies, which bolstered the finished pig price. However, there was some fluctuation in sow prices during the final quarter. This was likely influenced by the decline in EU finished pig prices last autumn, as competition form the US for the important Chinese market increased and there was some recovery in production levels.

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Over the past four weeks, the key European markets have all seen overall modest price increases in the region of a few cents. In sterling terms, further devaluation of the pound over this period accentuated these increases. The German figure increased by over 4p to stand at £1.16/kg for week ended 22 January. This suggests there has been healthy competition for sows and as such increases have also likely been seen in the GB cull sow price.

So far only Germany has released its December pig census figures. The count suggests a 3% decrease in the breeding herd on 2015. With other member states also expected to report declining breeding herds, sow and finished pig availability may remain tight. This could offer continued support to EU and GB sow prices this year.

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Bethan Wilkins, Analyst

bethan.wilkins@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8757