The latest AHDB/BPEX forecast for UK pig meat supply points to an increase in availability in the coming months, according to Pig Market Weekly.
UK clean pig slaughterings in the second quarter of 2014 recorded their biggest rise in two years. This suggests that productivity has improved further, with the number of pigs slaughtered per sow per year approaching 24; it was below 20 as recently as 2009.
With the breeding herd thought to have stabilised, and productivity continuing to improve, throughputs are expected to rise further for the rest of this year and into 2015, with growth of 3% forecast in both periods.
Of late, carcase weights have fallen close to last year’s levels, which may mitigate the forecast rise in slaughterings. Therefore, growth in domestic pig meat output in the second half of this year may be only slightly higher than in the first.
Imported pig meat is also likely to remain more plentiful. In the first half of the year, there was a 5% increase in supplies from overseas and a similar rise is forecast for the second half.
Despite the strong pound reducing the competitiveness of UK pork, export growth is continuing. However, any increase will be insufficient to make a big dent in the level of supplies on the domestic market.
Overall, the latest forecasts suggest a 3% rise in available supplies, currently being met by subdued consumer demand, particularly for fresh pork. This means that much of the additional meat, particularly from imports, is probably finding its way into lower-value processed products or foodservice.
Inevitably, this is starting to pull pig prices lower, and whether this continues will depend on how demand responds once the holidays are over and the weather turns colder.