Prices for finished beef and lamb have slipped over the past month, and it's a similar situation in the pig sector, with ample supplies resulting in the EU-spec SPP again falling on the week, to stand at 157.07p/kg – the ninth consecutive week of reduced prices, and the lowest since April.

However, the good news is the pig plant at Brechin is about to re-open its doors for business on November 13, thereby reducing transport costs at least for Scottish producers.

Since the Brechin abattoir fire, huge steps have been made to save the Specially Selected Pork brand, with a temporary derogation required to enable them to be slaughtered outwith Scotland, with many being slaughtered in Cookstown, Northern Ireland or in the Tulip-owned abattoir at Ashton-under-Lyne, in the Midlands.

"The closure of Brechin has created some astronomical costs, and with many of the pigs having to travel huge distances to be slaughtered, also swallowed up any spare capacity in abattoirs in the south, which has in turn has only added to the increase in supplies," said Andy McGowan, chief executive of Scottish Pig Producers.

However, while the 3.5month closure of the Scottish abattoir has had serious implications for the industry, Mr McGowan said producers remain optimistic for the future of their industry.

"Prices are back, but they are not back to the national average quoted. Scottish pig prices have slipped by the same proportion, but I'd like to think they'll stabilise when the Brechin plant re-opens and on the run up to Christmas.

"The increase in feed and straw prices have been more of a concern to producers than the fall in pig values, which is more due to the fact there are more pigs available in Europe as exports from the continent to China are down on the year," said Mr McGowan.

According to a report from AHDB, latest figures for the week ending October 21, show estimated slaughterings at 176,400 head were 4% higher than year earlier levels, but 4% down on the exceptional numbers slaughtered the previous week. Carcase weights also edged down by half a kg from the record high levels in the last full week, to 84.73kg. However, this was still a notable 1.6kg higher than equivalent 2016 levels.

With weights escalating in recent weeks, influenced by rolled pigs as a result of previous factory unreliability, the average probe measurement has been edging upwards too. It reached 11.5mm – a measurement not recorded since July 2016.

And, with finished pig prices coming under pressure, so too are weaner prices which have generally trended downwards in recent weeks, on the back of slow unit turnaround and caution about the market. Over the past four weeks, 30kg weaners have lost almost £4 per head, while 7kg weaner prices have slipped by around £1 per head.

Both categories of weaner recorded a fall in price in week, with 30kg weaner prices declined by £1.93 to £56.30/head, while 7kg weaners declined 38p to £41.80/head. These prices are broadly in line with levels from the spring this year, but both remain over £5/head above year earlier levels.

Looking further afield, global pork supply is expected to increase further, mainly driven by China, the US, Canada, and Brazil. But, while China’s pork imports have slowed, they are expected to pick up again later this year, according to RaboResearch’s latest global Pork Quarterly.

“The most significant story in global pork markets has been the substantial decline in China’s imports in recent months, which creates a risk of over-supplied global markets,” says Chenjun Pan, RaboResearch senior analyst of animal protein.

“However, we do expect China’s imports to pick up somewhat over the rest of the year,” he said.