Year starts with higher slaughterings
NOTE: The text below replaces an earlier version of this story following discovery of an apparent error in the published data.
In January, UK clean pig slaughterings were reportedly down 3% on January 2014, according to latest figures from Defra. However, this was due to a sharp fall in reported slaughterings in Northern Ireland, which appears to be an error. Figures from DARDNI show a 2% rise, which seems to be more likely, given a growing NI herd. This would mean that the UK figure would be up 2% year on year at 962,600 head, as throughputs in England and Wales were also up on the year as the backlog of pigs was cleared post-Christmas. With carcase weights reaching a record average of 82.7kg, overall pig meat production was up 4% on the year, based on the revised NI figures (the published figures show a 2% decrease). At 83,200 tonnes, this is the highest January figure since 2000. With the increased supply reported, finished pig prices have remained under pressure from ample supply. The availability of pigs will need to reduce if the market is to reverse, although tighter supplies are normally apparent in the spring.
Sow and boar slaughterings were down on January 2014, by 6% to 23,200 head but this was an increase on the month as processing returned to a normal schedule. Cull sow prices have been very low, which has limited the willingness of producers to replace sows. However, prices are beginning to show some positivity, which could encourage a higher kill in the coming months.