While farmgate pig prices have seen a small rise in recent weeks, pig farmers continue to operate under severe financial pressure in light of increased costs.

Irish pig prices are now running at €2.00-€2.06/kg – a long way off the €2.39/kg pig farmers need to break even.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Tipperary pig farmer Michael Monagle said: “Combined energy costs look dangerous at the moment and any problem with supply over the winter could be catastrophic for Irish pig farmers.”

All-in, electricity charges for the 12 months to 1 August 2022 are up 293% on the previous 18-month period, with average day rates at 40-50c/unit and night rates at 25-30c/unit.

On the diesel side of things hauliers and contractors are continually pressing for higher rates to cover fuel costs which is adding further pressure. This has meant energy costs at 16c/kg have now overtaken labour costs at 15c/kg.

Teagasc has estimated that the average herd of 600 sows continues to lose €50,512/month.

Feed price remains stable, however a huge amount of uncertainty remains in markets. The cost of a composite tonne of pig feed in September 2020 was €288.88/t when pig price was at €1.64/kg. Today it’s at €490.38/t – up €201/t or 70c/kg.

“The reality is pig feed will not return to historical levels any time soon and most likely will never and this looks like the same scenario for energy, so pig price will also need to find a new base level,” Monagle said.