AHDB report shows eight percent increase in cost of pig meat production

The costs of pig meat production in 17 countries during 2017 are examined in a new report from AHDB Pork
calendar icon 30 November 2018
clock icon 4 minute read

The latest of the annual Pig Cost of Production in Selected Countries reports provides producers with a wealth of information about the country’s technical performance, and enables them to compare their performance with their competitors. New to the 2017 report is data from Hungary, which has been included for the first time.

The report shows that the cost of pig meat production in Great Britain increased by 8% in 2017, to £1.37 per kg. The average cost of production in the EU also increased, to £1.36 per kg, a 7% increase, in sterling terms. In contrast with 2016, this reflects an increase in the costs of production across all sampled EU countries. Comparing Great Britain’s cost of production with that of one of its main competitors, Denmark’s cost of production during 2017 was a much lower £1.18 per kg.

The report also shows an increase, once again, in the overall average number of pigs weaned per sow per year in the 17 countries included in the analysis, up from 27.32 in 2016 to 27.9 in 2017, representing nearly a 2% increase.

In Great Britain, the increase was slightly greater, at 4%, bringing the average number of pigs weaned per sow per year up to 25.75, overall. This breaks down to an average of 26.97 pigs in the indoor herd and 23.95 pigs in the outdoor herd. Although below the national average, Great Britain’s outdoor herds showed the greatest improvement in performance, up 5% compared with 2016.

While Great Britain has a significant proportion of pigs kept outdoors, the lower numbers of pigs weaned per sow per year in all systems is still a major cause of the relatively high cost of production compared with many other EU countries, especially, for example, Denmark, which had an average of 33.3 pigs weaned per sow per year in 2017; this is an area that needs to be addressed, for Great Britain to be competitive with the rest of Europe.

AHDB Pork’s Senior Analyst Carol Davis said: “While our improvements have been driven by a combination of increased number of finished pigs at increasing carcase weights, the greatest challenge for our pig industry is maximising the number of pigs weaned per sow per year, whatever the system.

“We have a challenge competing like for like with some of our global competitors, therefore we need to look for more novel innovations to lower our cost of production. This may be using lower value land for outdoor production, or adopting modern technology to target attention on and selection of individual pigs.”

Steve Dunkley, Head of Pork KE, added: “Significant gains in physical and financial performance could be made by retaining more young sows in the breeding herd.

“Our current Gilt Watch programme, one of AHDB’s Farm Excellence activities, has brought together more than 30 independent producers from both indoor and outdoor units to monitor gilt performance and identify where improvements can be made.

“Through Gilt Watch, we will increase our understanding of why young sows are failing in the first place and share the experiences of those involved, with the ultimate aim of ensuring gilts reach their full lifetime potential.”

Further Reading

You can download the 2017 Pig Cost of Production in Selected Countries report by clicking here.

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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