Gloomy words from UK pigmeat sector leader Unigate on Monday provided the clearest indication so far that domestic pork and bacon suppliers are recognising their margins are being crushed between conflicting trends in the raw material markets. Unigate's mention of the East Anglia swine fever epidemic as a new pressure on its Malton Foods subsidiary surprised the City, pushing the share price lower. However, more significant was the admission by the company that it had been expecting either a downturn in the pig price or a strengthening of the pigmeat market. This suggests Malton has misjudged both the UK pig industry and its competitors on the continent. Anticipating a lower pig price implies assuming an increase in livestock supply, probably here as well as in other EU states, while a rebound in the meat price could have happened only in response to reduced availability almost everywhere. Instead, latest MAFF's weekly slaughter estimates show the UK kill remains at an historically low level of well under 250,000 head, while import pressure on prices persists because abattoir throughputs on the continent appear to be erratic. {{PROVISIONS }}

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