UK pig meat production growth driven by weights - AHDB

UK pig meat production totalled 80,100 tonnes in December
calendar icon 19 January 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

According to AHDB analyst Freya Shuttleworth, who cited the latest Defra data, UK pig meat production totalled 80,100 tonnes in December 2022. This is a drop of 13% (11,8000 tonnes) compared to November as the festive holidays disrupted usual kill patterns. 

Although this volume is significantly below those seen a year ago (-11%, 9,800 tonnes) it is marginally above (+0.6%, 400 tonnes) the 5-year average for the month of December. This brings the annual pig meat production volume for 2022 to 1.05million tonnes, an increase of 1.2% (12,600 tonnes) compared to 2021.

Clean pig slaughter stood at 884,700 head in December according to Defra, down 11% (110,600 head) from November, again due to disrupted kill over Christmas. This brings the total number of clean pigs slaughtered in 2022 to 11.2 million head, a marginal decrease (-0.6%, 62,000 head) from 2021. It is likely that this year-on-year decline in slaughter numbers is due to the additional bank holidays received in 2022 creating fewer working days.

Defra’s figures show sow and boar kill fell in December to its lowest monthly number since October 2021 at 18,000 head. Numbers of sow and boar do normally drop off in December, with 2021 and the backlog of pigs being the exception. This brings total numbers for the year to 257,000 head, unsurprisingly with the challenges producers have faced, this is an increase of 5% compared to last year and compared to the annual 5-year average.

Carcase weights continued to ease in December with the average sitting at 87.6kg for the month. There is a 3.3kg difference between current weights and the weights seen in December last year when pigs were backing up on farm, however weights do still remain above the 5 year average by 1.7kg. Carcase weights have been the main driver for increased production in 2022. Average weights peaked at the beginning of the year during the height of the backlog and gradually eased until the autumn then declined again come winter. For the year as a whole carcase weights averaged 90.1kg, up almost 5kg on the annual 5-year average and up 2% on 2021.

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