UK pig production higher in 2018
UK pig meat production totalled 71,900 tonnes in December, which is a slight increase (+1%) compared to a year earlier. This brings production for 2018 to 926,700 tonnes, 24,100 tonnes higher (+3%) than in 2017. This is a result of higher slaughterings for both clean pigs and sows and boars.
Clean pig slaughterings in December were similar to the previous year overall, at 834,800 head. However, in England and Wales throughputs were down by around 10,500 head (-2%) compared to a year earlier. This was counteracted by an increase in slaughterings in Northern Ireland, up 11,700 head (+9%) in December, although slaughterings in Scotland were down by 500 head (-2%). This brings UK total slaughter for the year to 10.7 million head, a 2.5% increase (+257,500 head) compared to 2017 and the highest annual throughput since 2000.
Carcase weights dropped slightly in December compared to the previous month, however weights were nonetheless above the 2017 level for the first time since August. Averaging 83.2kg in December, the measure was 630g higher than the previous year. This is most likely indicative of fewer pigs being pulled forward as a result of poor demand over the December period.
Sow slaughterings also picked up slightly in December, standing 2% (+400 head) higher than the previous year at 16,900 head. Sow slaughterings in the year were therefore 9% higher (+22,200 head) than in 2017 at 258,800 head. However it is worth noting that sow slaughterings in 2017 were unusually low, especially at the start of the year, meaning higher slaughter would be expected due to an older breeding herd. Nonetheless, the slaughter rate in the second half of the year is perhaps slightly above usual expectations, suggesting the worsening financial situation may have led some producers to reduce their herd size.
Tom Forshaw, Analyst
Tom.Forshaw@ahdb.org.uk, 024 7647 8647