UK Pig Slaughterings Start to Fall

Clean pig slaughterings in the UK slipped to 698,000 in March, according to the latest quarterly UK Pig Statistics from the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, writes Chris Harris, Senior Editor, ThePigSite.
calendar icon 25 April 2008
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The dip of two per cent pigs slaughtered followed rises of six per cent in January and two per cent in March.

The total number slaughtered in UK slaughterhouses for the first three months of the year was 2,308,000 compared to 2,264,000 last year.

However, the numbers of sow and adult boars slaughter rose significantly.

In January the figure was up by 46 per cent to 28,000 and in February the rise was 40 per cent at 23,000. The numbers slaughtered in March rose by 18 per cent to 21,000.

UK home killed clean pig slaughterings (th. head)

UK home killed sow and boar slaughterings (th.head)

The average carcase weights for clean pigs in the EU having risen slightly at the beginning of the year, dropped in March. In January and February they were 77.2kg and 77.1kg respectively, while in March they fell by half a kilo to 76.6kg - but still above the average weight for 2007.

UK clean pig carcase weights

The carcase weights for sows and boars while up by five per cent in January fell by four per cent in February and two per cent in March.

UK sow and boar carcase weights

Total pig meat production for the first quarter of the year in the UK rose. In January the UK produced 72,000 tonnes compared to 66,000 tonnes last year. In February the UK produced 60,000 tonnes compared to 54,000 in the same month in 2007, and in March the figure was 57,000 tonnes compared to 54,000 tonnes in March 2007. Of the 2008 production, 62,000 tonnes was fresh pork meat and 10,000 tonnes bacon and ham.

In February 52,000 tonnes was pork with 8,000 tonnes bacon or ham, and in March 48,000 tonnes was fresh pork with 8,000 tonnes again bacon and ham.

However, the amount of home cured bacon and ham is falling. In the first quarter of 2006, the UK produced 50,000 tonnes. In the same quarter last year that figure had slipped to 46,000 tonnes and for the first three months of this year the amount had slipped again to 41,000 tonnes. While the amount produced is falling, the percentage of production coming from home killed pigs is rising from 49 per cent for the last two years to 56 per cent this year. The amount of imported pig meat being processed has declined from 23,000 tonnes to 18,000 tonnes.

The Defra figures show that over the last year both pork imports and exports have risen, with most of the trade being to other EU nations.

Imports, which largely come from Denmark and Ireland rose by just one per cent to 463,000 tonnes, while exports rose by 15 per cent to 109,000 tonnes. Imports from outside the EU have fallen by 22 per cent while export to non-EU countries rose by 12 per cent.

After sharp declines in both bacon and ham imports and exports in 2006, the market started to recover last year rising by 15 per cent for imported bacon and ham and 34 per cent for exports.

Pork Imports

Pork Exports

The latest figures reported by Defra from Eurostat for the European wide pig slaughter numbers up until November last year show a general trend of a rise in the numbers killed.

Defra points out that the EU figures, based on the EU25, do not distinguish between clean pig slaughterings and cull slaughtering, but the trend shows rises of seven per cent in the two large pig producing nations of Germany and Spain and rises of five per cent in Belgium. It also shows increases of four per cent in the UK, three per cent in Poland, two per cent in Italy, one per cent in the Netherlands and France and static figures for Denmark.

Total pig slaughterings in the EU 25

In the UK the reference prices were above the EU average for the last year, but by the end of the year the lines on the graph had crossed and the latest reference prices to 6 April this year were € 3.88 per 100kg below the EU average.

The Defra figures also show that the GB average deadweight prices for pigs have remained fairly flat compared to feed prices that have risen sharply from the end of last year.

Further Reading

More information - You can view the full report by clicking here.

April 2008
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