Dwindling discounts for heavy pigs in recent years
A few weeks ago, we looked at the factors behind changes in the SPP. The Standard Pig Price is a weighted average of a sample of standard pigs slaughtered in the week, and reported to AHDB. These pigs can be further categorised into carcase weight bands. Each of these bands tends to be at a slightly different price level.
By far the most pigs (typically 90-93%) fall between 70kg and 100kg. The share of pigs going over 100kg has been increasing in recent years as producers push for heavier weights, and they are now around 3-4% of the SPP sample. Around 20% or more of the sample pigs are now in the 90-100kg range, up from nearer 10% five years ago.
The price of pigs in a narrow 100-105kg weight band has changed the most over the last few years, relative to the SPP. In the past 12 months, prices in this weight band have been around 10p below the overall SPP. This figure was more like 40p in 2014-15.
Some contracts now have a top weight of 105kg before punitive price discounts start to apply. Some pigs in this 5kg range will therefore be meeting a contract specification for weight, while others will be too heavy. Pigs between 100 and 105kg tend not to make up more than about 3% of the weekly sample.
Some more processors are also trialling taking more boars to 105kg, which might eventually lead to better prices for more of these animals. Since 1st January 2018, The British Meat Processors Association has allowed weights of up to 105kg in its BMPA Quality Assured Pork scheme, under a specific conditional derogation for those taking part in the trials. This trial is ongoing, but has meant that although boars are not being bred to reach 105kg, they have remained in spec up until that weight.
There is clearly a fine line between putting on weight, and running the risk of going over a contractual limit. However, it is worth remembering that when it comes to on-farm profitability, the price is only one side of the equation. It is always important to monitor costs, to ensure that making extra weight is paying.