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We have hit bottom (maybe is it a thin ice bottom?)

Resist, resist and resist should be the motto for the first three months of 2018.

Monday 4 December 2017 (10 months 13 days ago)

The downward trend of the Spanish prices ended on Thursday, November 23rd, with the first repetition after 14 consecutive weeks of drops in prices. The last market day in November also showed a repetition, and the price will remain fixed during the first half of December. All seems to tell that we have hit bottom. The heart of the matter lays in if this bottom is firm like granite or fragile like thin ice.

November has been a month with an extraordinary activity. The record of slaughterings has been beaten week after week. The standard has been more than a million pigs slaughtered per week in Spain. Anyhow, this extraordinary activity has not helped to catch up regarding the delayed pigs on the farms, because the average weight of the carcasses in the last week of November has been 2.50 kg higher than in the same week in 2016.

We are facing the future with three of the five next weeks full of holidays. Undoubtedly, the volume of slaughterings will fall. Anyhow, these dates favour understanding and peace, and this seems to be propitious for a quiet December, with no distress at all regarding the prices.

January will render a judgment. As always, there will be a lot of delayed pigs after Christmas, and their weight will be very high. Slaughterings will go on to the max for weeks, but nevertheless, delayed and heavy pigs will build up. We fear that the market will have to give in again.

As we have learned along the years, the market regulates itself. Now, the Spanish price (liveweight) is some €0.10 below the German price. If January seems hostile (and it will be undoubtedly hostile), there will always be the resource of exporting carcasses massively to unblock the situation. With a difference of €0.02-0.03 more, the ‘window of time’ will open as a great market defence.

Resist, resist and resist should be the motto for the first three months of 2018. Endure and wait for things to improve.

Whatever must happen will happen. It is the moment to look back and see that 2017 will be a wonderful year for Spanish pig production. The number of slaughtered pigs has reached the same level as in 2016, and up to now, the average price in 2018 is €1.28/kg LW: not bad at all. Who would not have given the thumbs up to this result when 2017 started?

As Joshua J. Marino (American sailor and writer) said: “Challenges make life interesting, and overcoming them makes life worthwhile.”

Guillem Burset

<p>Guillem Burset</p>

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