Thursday, 8 October 2020
By Bethan Wilkins
Weaner prices have fallen further in the past few months, losing significant ground in July before declining again in late September. The EU average for the latest week ended 27 September was about €36/head, the lowest price since November 2018. This is less than half of the price recorded at the peak in March, representing a significant drop in income for breeders. This price is also nearly €5 below the 5-year average for the time of year.
A significant weakening of the finished pig market has discouraged the demand for weaners at a time of year when prices are already often falling. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted pork demand across the EU. More recently, Germany’s ASF outbreak has brought a new wave of downward price pressure, with the pork that would have been exported to China now trading on the EU market. Reports also indicate some countries, particularly Germany, have developed a backlog of market ready pigs due to constrained processing capacity. This may also dampen the weaner market, if space on fattening farms is limited.
Weaner prices followed a similar pattern in the majority of EU countries, though in some nations prices have remained stable so far in more recent weeks. Prices had been picking up in Denmark in early September, but this small increase has since been lost and prices are now around €56/head, the lowest level since May 2019. Denmark supplies significant number of weaners to Germany for finishing and demand for these pigs would be expected to fall now pork from Germany faces limited export prospects. Weaner prices in Germany itself have fallen to just €31/head in the latest week, the lowest price since 2007.
Prices in southern Europe have been noticeably more stable, with Spanish prices similar to late July while Italian prices have actually increased by €4 over the same period. Strong trade with China is supporting the Spanish market, though the outlook for Italian prices, as a significant pig meat importer from Germany, looks more uncertain.