Improving the Outlook for UK Pork Industry

While UK sales of fresh and frozen pork followed a fairly stable trend last year with a slight dip in the middle of the year, sales of processed pork rose in the middle of the year, writes ThePigSite senior editor, Chris Harris.
calendar icon 14 May 2010
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Retail prices that had seen a surge in 2008 were knocked back at the beginning of 2009, only to rise again in the middle of the year and to fall back again slightly towards the end of the year, James Park a senior analyst from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Market Intelligence team told the recent Outlook 2010 conference in London.

Clean pig slaughterings were down to 8.8 million in 2009 and although there is a seasonality to carcass weights, they are generally staying down to around 79kg.

"We are producing heavier pigs but they are lean pigs and this shows there are efficiencies in the industry," Mr Park told the conference.

He said that finished pig prices came off their 2009 peak towards the end of the year. While they showed a similar trend to 2008, they were up in 2009 and despite the decline at the end of the year, they started 2010 higher than 2009 and only now are they starting to fall below those of last year.

However, Mr Park said there was a positive message through the markets for prices this year.

The weaner prices in general have followed the increase in pig prices and he EU and the UK reference prices shadow each other.

UK pig producers saw good net margins last year. However, Mr Park said, this was on the back of two years when producer prices were down, showing the industry had to suffer before it could see good margins.

Over the last year, the European pig herd contracted and prices were low year on year. However, the exchange rate has made the UK industry very competitive.

While the UK industry was competitive, trade was slow during 2009 because of the strong domestic market.

Imports of fresh and frozen pork were down by nine per cent to 360,000 tonnes and exports were down by 12 per cent to 104,000 tonnes. For bacon, however, imports rose by seven per cent to 312,000, with Denmark taking a 44 per cent market share and the Netherlands 38 per cent. Exports fell by 33 per cent to 21,000 tonnes.

The outlook for the UK market is to see an increase in productivity at the producer level with the breeding herd expected to increase to over 450,000 next year from 438,000 at the end of 2009.

Production is forecast to rise form 720,000 tonnes last year to 741,000 tonnes next year and 794,000 tonnes in 2011.

April 2010
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