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Pigs are looking up

SCOTTISH PIG producers are facing challenging times as their industry adjusts to the end of pig slaughtering at Hall's of Broxburn site – but producers might take some heart from another 1% improvement in pig prices over the past month.

According to Quality Meat Scotland's head of economics Stuart Ashworth, this latest rise puts Scottish pig prices some 9% above this time last year, even though elsewhere in the Europe pig producing countries have seen their prices slide by about 3% over the same period.

"This has created a significant turnaround in the position of Scottish prices in contrast to European prices," said Mr Ashworth. "Scottish prices now stand 8% above the EU average compared to 1% below in mid-October. The down side on this, of course, is that it makes European product more competitive in the UK market."

"Some retailers are saying they are recognising the increased cost of feed in their pricing policies," added Mr Ashworth. "There is also the prospect that the demand for pigmeat is improving and that worries over reduced European production in 2013 may be encouraging retailer recognition of a need to secure UK production."

A closer look at the European price also suggests an underlying strength in the pig sector, he observed: "The modest decline in European prices over the past month still leaves European prices almost 20% higher than this time last year. Data on production is lagging for many member states but the data that is available shows declines among major pig producers.

"Whichever way we look at it, the medium term outlook for the pig sector is one of tight supplies giving the producer a position of strength in the market place. Pig producers will also be pleased to see some of the heat coming out of the international protein and grain market," he said.

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