High weights, more sows add to pork production
Pig meat production in the UK continued to outpace beef production in January, according to the latest DEFRA figures. Output increased by 4% compared with the same period last year, to 85,700 tonnes.
Higher production levels were due to a combination of factors. Clean pig slaughterings in January 2016 increased 2% on the same period last year, to 978,800 head, and the average carcase weight increased over 1% to 83.8kg. Therefore more, heavier pigs were coming forward to slaughter. The UK production figure was slightly subdued due to a fall in clean pig slaughterings in Scotland (-32% to 18,000 head) and Northern Ireland (-2% to 158,000 head) on the same period last year. The fall in Scotland was due to the installation of new pig slaughtering facilities at the leading Scottish abattoir. This may help to increase Scottish slaughter volumes in future months and reduce the number of Scottish pigs being sent into England for slaughter.
During January, average carcase weights were the heaviest on record and there were some reports that these were affecting processing machinery and breaking equipment. The average weight increased 4%, compared with the previous month, and 1% on the same month last year. Sow cullings were also up on the same period last year, by 14% to 25,200 head. This may be an early indication that the downwards price pressure in the pig market is starting to force some producers to begin rationalising their breeding herds, although the figure for January 2015 was lower than normal.
Vikki Campbell, Senior Analyst
vikki.Campbell@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8622