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Latest Cost of Pig Production Report - 2014

14 January 2016


Welcome to the 2014 edition of AHDB Pork's report on pig production costs in selected countries.

All these figures relate to 2014.

At the start of 2014, there was much optimism among EU pig producers for the year ahead. Pig prices remained relatively strong by historic standards and increased demand from export markets was expected to keep the market firm. At the same time, feed prices had fallen back and looked set to remain low, meaning producer margins were expected to be positive. In reality, it turned out to be a year of two halves, with a reasonable first half followed by a challenging second half.

EU pig prices started 2014 at an average of around €1.60 per kg, around 10 cents lower than a year before but still strong by historic standards.

Although EU production was increasing, there were expectations of a strong year for exports, given the impact of PEDv on the US industry, reducing competition for EU exporters. However, that outlook changed in February, following the discovery of the first cases of African Swine Fever on the EU mainland.

This led to Russia, the largest buyer of EU pork, banning the import of most pig meat products from the EU. Some other countries banned imports from the countries affected by ASF. The initial Russian ban led to a short-term fall in prices during February and March but the market quickly recovered and prices were close to year earlier levels through the spring and early summer.

However, the impact of the Russian ban eventually began to take effect, especially following the imposition of wider sanctions by Russia in August in response to the situation in Ukraine.

Despite strong sales to other export markets, particularly in Asia, EU pig prices fell steadily from July onwards with the average dropping from a peak of €1.75 per kg to end the year at little over €1.30, over 30 cents lower than a year before.

GB pig prices followed a similar pattern to those in the EU but remained at a significant premium. The market was largely stable during the first half of the year after a typical post-Christmas dip, although the normal seasonal rise in the spring never really happened. However, as on the continent, GB prices started falling from the summer onwards with the average pig price dropping from over 165p/kg in June to about 145p/kg at the end of the year.

As well as the falling price of imports from the EU, plentiful domestic supplies and a subdued consumer market contributed to the falling prices. Nevertheless, with retail buyers remaining committed to sourcing pork from domestic producers, UK prices averaged nearly 30p/kg higher than the EU average across the year. The gradual strengthening of the pound against the euro added to the gap by reducing EU prices in sterling terms.

To assist producers in comparing their physical performance with other pig businesses in England, AHDB Pork has a Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) section on its website which is updated quarterly based on Agrosoft data. The section provides average, top third and top 10 per cent performance for KPIs for indoor and outdoor breeding herds, rearing and finishing herds. For more information visit and go to the ‘Prices, Facts and Figures’ section (Costings and Herd Performance).


  • The cost of pig meat production in Great Britain reduced by 13 per cent in 2014, to £1.39/kg. The average cost of production in the EU was £1.34/kg deadweight, a 13 per cent decrease in sterling terms compared to 2013

  • All EU countries experienced a decrease in the costs of production (in sterling terms) compared to 2013

  • Average producer prices were also lower in 2014 than in 2013, with only four EU countries having production costs below the EU average reference price

  • Average feed prices were lower in 2014 than in 2013, falling by 16 per cent on average across the EU countries

  • In 2014 as a whole, EU feed costs per kg fell by 17 per cent compared with a year earlier, in sterling terms. The fall in Great Britain was 19 per cent, one of the greatest falls in the EU. All InterPIG member countries experienced a fall in feed costs compared to 2013

  • The overall average number of pigs weaned per sow per year in the European InterPIG countries showed a two per cent increase in 2014, up from 26.06 in 2013 to 26.53, with Denmark achieving 30.0 for a second time. There was a two per cent increase in pigs weaned per sow in Great Britain to 24.09 overall. Indoor sow production achieved 25.7, an increase of three per cent compared to 2013

  • The main reason Great Britain has a below average number of pigs weaned per sow lies in the number of pigs born alive per litter with Great Britain still performing below the EU average of 13.2. The 2014 Great Britain average at 12.1 (indoor sows 12.6, outdoor sows 11.2) was an increase compared to 11.87 in 2013

  • The average number of pigs finished per sow in Great Britain again increased in 2014. At 22.7 pigs per sow (indoor sows 24.2, outdoor sows 20.5), average performance was 0.47 pigs higher than in 2013 but lower than the EU average of 25.13

  • Great Britain produced 1.82 tonnes of carcase meat per sow in 2014, three per cent higher than in 2013 due to a combination of the increase in the number of pigs finished per sow and an increase in finishing weight

  • An AHDB Pork survey of pig businesses that have achieved the 2TS target identified two common factors affecting high performing success: 

    -A weekly analysis and review of herd performance data and discussing with staff actual herd performance relative to targets

    - Engaging staff and delivering a structured approach to staff training and skills development


Aggregate results for 2014

The production costs of pig meat in 2014 for all the countries covered in this report are shown below in Figure 1. This data includes all variable costs (other than transport of pigs to abattoirs) and fixed costs. Fixed costs include depreciation and interest costs for capital items such as buildings and equipment. Costs for regular and casual labour are included but no allowances are made for directors’ salaries or partners’ drawings.

Figure 1 Cost of production in selected countries, 2014

The average cost of production in the EU in 2014 was £1.34/kg deadweight, a 13 per cent decrease on the previous year, mainly due to a reduction in feed costs. Costs of production in Great Britain were higher than the EU average at £1.39, a 13 per cent decrease on the previous year, almost entirely due to the reduction in feed costs. In 2014, Italy had the highest costs at £1.57, with Sweden the second highest at £1.48. The two countries with the lowest production costs in the EU were; Spain (£1.19) and Denmark (£1.23).

The average UK reference price was 4 per cent lower during 2014 than in 2013, averaging £1.54/kg, but this was nearly 24 per cent above the EU average of £1.26/kg. With falling pig prices there was a 12 per cent difference between the beginning and end of 2014. Although margins fluctuated throughout 2014, on average the UK price was above the estimated costs of production for each of the twelve months, although it had reduced to just above breakeven by the end of 2014. Across the EU countries which were sampled, there was a technical loss of eight pence on every kg of pig meat produced, with only four EU countries (Belgium, Denmark, France and Spain) having production costs below the EU average reference price.


Comparisons with previous years
(in sterling terms)

Costs of production in 2014, compared with results for the five previous years, are shown in Table 1. The average cost of production in the EU countries was 13 per cent lower than 2013 levels for the same countries and stood at £1.34/kg. All EU countries experienced a decrease in the costs of production.

Table 1 Average costs of production, 2009-2014 (£/kg deadweight)


Comparisons with previous years
(in euro terms)

During 2014, the pound continued to strengthen against the euro. Consequently, the decrease in average costs was lower in euro terms, as shown in Table 2, than in sterling terms. Historic exchange rates are given in Appendix 3, Table 9

Table 2 Average costs of production, 2009-2014 (€/kg deadweight)

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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