Global trade has been the dominant factor in lifting pig prices above last year’s levels, with domestic consumers spending less on pork.
According to the latest analysis from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), GB prime pig producer prices were running 3.5 per cent ahead of last year at the end of August, despite a significant reduction in household spending on pork and cured pigmeat products.
Iain Macdonald, QMS senior economics analyst, said: “At the end of last month, the standard pig price was trading at 153.3p/kg deadweight.
“Once heavier carcase weights have been factored in, each carcase was worth about 4.5 per cent more than a year earlier.”
It comes despite Kantar Worldpanel figures showing a significant reduction in household spending on pork and cured pigmeat, with Defra slaughter statistics also showing increased production.
About 55 per cent of the UK’s pigmeat supply came from overseas last year, while 28 per cent of domestic production was exported.
Data showed a 21 per cent lift in exports during the second quarter of 2019, with this almost entirely due to a near-doubling of sales to China/Hong Kong as they faced a shortage caused by African swine fever (ASF).
Mr Macdonald said Chinese pork imports climbed by more than a quarter in the first half of 2019, according to the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.
European countries, including the UK, were well placed to meet this demand, with market access in place and the ongoing trade war between China and the US.
EU prices were up about 20 per cent on last year and have been trading at higher than the UK average since mid-April, boosting the competitiveness of domestic pigmeat on the UK market.
AHDB senior analyst Bethan Wilkins highlighted escalated demand had reflected in export prices for the dominant global exporters.
She added the Chinese Government announced it would encourage import growth to help stabilise the soaring domestic pork price and it would release pork from Government stores.
Despite this, farmgate prices in the US and Brazil have actually declined in recent weeks.