Feed prices are causing headaches for British pig producers at the moment, as feed wheat futures prices soar to £175 a ton in September 2011, compared with an actual price of below £100 in May this year.

Net producer margins (which are described by the British Pig Executive as “a reflection of the true sustainable cost of production, including depreciation of buildings etc) have fallen from plus £7.7/pig in July this year to minus £12.8 in October.

Revealing these disappointing figures to producers in the East of England at the beginning of November, BPEX market analyst James Park warned there was little likelihood of feed prices falling in the short term.

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However, UK production was still expected to rise to 785,000 tonnes next year, compared with the estimated 759,000 tonnes this year, as producers adapted to the new conditions and rationalised production to meet growing domestic and export demands.

BPEX is hoping that the UK will soon get the green light to export “fifth quarter” pigmeat, such as ears, to China. At least two British processors have already been approved by the Chinese authorities.