Overcrowded farms have received as little as 70 p / kg for “distress loads” of overweight pigs as the industry faces a shortage of 12,000 butchers and humane slaughter begins.
Some pigs weighing up to 140 kg live weight were sold between 70 and 100 p / kg, were cut into six primary cuts and exported to China, Poland and the Philippines.
These pigs are around 30kg overweight and absolutely unprofitable, but for many operations it is better to roll 25% of the finishers every week rather than having the pigs slaughtered humane.
Some units face 12 months of deficit pricing and have seen feed costs rise 30% and hog prices drop 20% since July.
At present, the latest AHDB cost figures suggest that a standard pork price of 144 pence / kg means farms could lose more than £ 26 per pig on animals that meet specifications.
National Pig Association chief executive Zoe Davies said the cabinet hiring of former Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis last week was a much-needed positive step in the right direction.
Live markets saw prices hold up relatively well by comparison, but Will Wallis, hog auctioneer at Frome, said the lower prices caused bidders to move away from the live market.
Mr Wallis said the price of imported pork constantly put pressure on UK prices.
“Why would a buyer come and pay more at almost 170 p / kg deadweight when he can get pork at close to 70 p / kg?” ” He asked.
Sow prices were still low, but most sows still earned over £ 50 per head in Frome based on domestic demand, although pigs were still exported.
The desperate situation of the pig market was horrible to see. “We must continue to harass our MPs and promote British food. That’s all we can do, ”he said.
Pig prices were under pressure in Selby, although the pigs were still being processed, said Richard Haigh of Selby Livestock Auction Mart.
He stressed that the farmers who moved pigs were very lucky, highlighting the desperate situation some units found themselves in.
“We have never been able to sell top quality pigs,” Haigh said. “But the big trade is not returning a good average at the moment.”
He said the trade has been under pressure for a year or more and is currently 5-6 p / kg compared to last year. “A lot of boar hogs are 80-90p / kg, and although the trade has firmed up a bit recently, we are not able to get the sellers what they want,” he said.