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AHDB Pork’s team works with pig producers and pork processors providing tools and information to help their businesses. At the same time, it works with the pork supply chain to promote pork to consumers and develop new export markets. AHDB Pork’s mission is to help English pig production and processing businesses become more competitive and profitable.

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AHDB Pork Blog

Why do we export pork? by Stephen Howarth, Market Specialist Manager

Stephen HowarthIn the Market Intelligence department, we get lots of calls from people outside the industry looking for information about how the pig market works. Two of the questions we get asked a lot are:

  • Why is the UK not self-sufficient in pig meat?
  • If we’re only 55% self-sufficient, why are we exporting so much pork?

The answer to both is essentially the same – carcase balance. Many UK consumers buy a relatively small range of pig meat products. Several of the most popular ones come from the same part of the pig, leaving surplus meat from other cuts.

To help people to understand the issue, we’ve published an article analysing demand for different cuts and the impact it is having on the UK industry. For example, it shows that, even if all of the loins from all UK pigs were sold as back bacon, there still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy demand. As several popular fresh pork cuts, such as chops and steaks, also come from the loin, it’s clear the demand can currently only be satisfied by importing loins.

On the other hand, demand from the UK is only enough to use up around 70% of British pork shoulders and 50% of bellies. Export markets have to be found for the surplus, which is why the UK is exporting pork as well as importing. Expanding production, so we need to import fewer loins (and legs), would mean an even bigger excess of other cuts, so output can only grow as new markets for these are developed. This means that, unless consumer preferences change radically, any future expansion of the UK herd will be steady rather than spectacular.

To read more about carcase balance and how it affects the UK pig industry, click here.


By AHDBPork at 8 Feb 2016, 15:40 PM

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