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UK output in decline as Europe moves ahead

by 5m Editor
4 June 2007, at 4:51am

UK - DEFRA reports that UK finished pig output for the first four months of this year has fallen.

The April slaughter average of 174,000 pigs a week is down by 5000 compared with numbers from earlier in the year. The average stands at 179,000.

The figures represent an output equivalent to 19.3 pigs sold/sow/year, based on the June 2006 breeding herd census of 468,000 sows. It is the lowest productivity of the ten leading EU pig production countries.

Danish producers are achieving 24.29/pigs sold/sow/year followed by the Netherlands at 23.36, France at 22.45 and Ireland at 21.9.

UK carcase weights have also dropped from 76.6kg to 74.3kg over the same period. They are lower than EU averages and, with the exception of Ireland, EU pig producers are hitting average carcass weights above 80kg - Austria, Belgium and Germany are all producing pigs above 90kg deadweight.

Based on the December 2006 UK Census of 449,000 breeding sows, unless productivity rates increase in the UK, finished pig output is likely to slip further to an average of no more than 167,000 pigs/week.

This compares with weekly slaughter figures in the late 1990s of over 300,000 head.

UK production costs estimated by the MLC are more104p/kg deadweight and with the exception of Parma Ham production in Italy, are the highest of all their EU competitors. Imports of pigmeat into the UK are also continuing to rise while exports remain static.

In all, DEFRA's findings do not present a positive outlook, say industry officials. The UK pig producers know that they must improve thier competitive edge and BPEX's Road to Recovery Strategy is on track. Many believe there are clear signs of improvement and the UK's industry wide health initiative, and its proposed environmental strategy, will be integral in helping it gain ground.

5m Editor