UK production growth continues
UK pig meat production remained strong in March, with 79,800 tonnes output during the month, according to latest figures from Defra. This equated to an increase of around 5% compared with March 2015, once changes to reporting periods are taken into account.
A combination of factors contributed to this increase. Clean pig slaughterings were up by 3%, at 920,000 head, despite Easter falling in March this year. This is in line with expectations, given the slight increase in the breeding herd during 2015 and further productivity gains. Easter holidays appear to have had a bigger effect on throughputs in Northern Ireland, which were reportedly lower than in March 2015.
As well as the larger number of clean pigs processed, they were heavier than in March 2015. The average carcase weight of 83.1kg was well over a kilo higher than a year before, although lower than the two previous months. In addition, the difficult financial position of producers meant that sow slaughterings remained inflated. Throughputs during the month totalled 23,400 head, around 10% (or 2,200 head) more than the adjusted figure for last March. So far this year, around 7,500 more sows have been slaughtered than in the first three months of 2015. While the rate of culling was lower than usual last year, this might indicate some contraction of the breeding herd is underway, particularly if the increase is sustained.
Stephen Howarth, Market Specialist Manager
Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org, 024 7647 8856