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And Everyone Asked for More...

by 5m Editor
31 January 2009, at 5:34am

UK - The long awaited Jamie Oliver Channel 4 programme broadcast on Thursday evening proved to be every bit as much of a tonic for the British pig industry as we had dreamed for, says Peter Crichton in his Traffic Lights commentary.

His passionate belief in the much higher welfare levels associated with the domestic product backed up by a whole cross section of different clips, views and opinions from many well known faces served to underline just what a good product we are producing and how unfair it is for price comparisons to be made against low welfare imports.

Widespread confusion over labeling was underlined by the inability of many shoppers to work out if the pigmeat products they purchased were reared here, abroad or on the moon.

As a result retail customers, retailers and processors are all talking about the show and this had a direct effect on the spot market which staged significant price rises across the board despite the € losing almost 5 per cent in value over the past seven days.

Most spot bacon quotes opened in the 138–140p range, but premiums of 2-5p above this were available in some areas as the day wore on, but in some cases on a fairly tight spec. This compares with the DAPP which in horseracing terms seems to have been got at or nobbled.

Although the DAPP is designed to reflect and to some extent track market prices, many producers were puzzled (and some incensed) by the fact that during the first five weeks of the year the DAPP has only risen by 0.15 per cent from 131.23p to 131.38p, whereas spot prices which opened at 134p are now 140p plus, over 5 percent up.

The AHDB is reported to have received a number of calls from producers crying “foul” and currently it is difficult to see how such a minuscule rise can be justified in the face of the overwhelming evidence provided by the spot market.

Another grey cloud that is slightly overshadowing the market has been the recent fall in the value of the euro which has dropped from 94.4p last Friday to trade at 89.7p today.

This effectively takes 5 percent off the cost of imports posing more of a threat to the commodity end of the UK pigmeat prices, despite all the good work done by Jamie Oliver and Co.

Currency fluctuations have also impacted on the cull sow sector with some traders opening offers as low as 112p, but a shortage of numbers in the system meant that in many cases bids were only a couple of pence below last week’s levels with 116p (and more) available for larger loads.

There is no doubt that weaner supplies are continuing to tighten and this remains a seller’s market with the AHDB 30kg ex-farm weaner average creeping ever upwards and now standing at £46.48/head, but once again significant premiums out there from buyers looking to fill empty units.

The industry needs to continue to build on the publicity and general public interest stimulated by the Jamie Oliver programme in the weeks ahead, but as prices normally move up from February onwards this is certainly a case of “so far so good”.

A few “thank you” emails to Jamie from pig producers to show our appreciation would not be a bad idea. He can be contacted on www.jamieoliver.com