The latest AHDB/BPEX forecasts for UK pig meat supplies predict that the UK market may ease somewhat in 2014, but that supplies will remain relatively tight
Revealed at the AHDB Outlook Conference yesterday (February 12), the figures suggest that the decline in the UK breeding herd in 2012 means that finished pig numbers will remain constrained in the near future.
In particular, BPEX analyst Stephen Howarth poted to the fact that there has been no sign of significant expansion of the breeding herd, although a more stable position over the past year means that productivity gains are likely to reassert themselves as the main driver of pig numbers.
Slaughterings should start to increase as 2014 progresses, with throughputs for the year as a whole forecast to be 2% higher than they were in 2013.
Given lower feed prices, sow slaughterings and carcase weights are expected to be similar to 2013, meaning that pig meat production is set to rise at a similar rate to clean pig slaughterings, topping 850,000 tonnes for the first time since 2000.
The conference also revealed that UK pork imports fell during in 2013. A modest recovery is forecast for 2014, given slightly more plentiful EU supplies. If the large gap between EU and UK pig prices is sustained, then imports could be higher.
Further growth in exports is expected this year, given higher production and the possible opening of more markets for a wider range of products. However, recent strengthening of the pound may limit gains.
These developments mean that supplies available for consumption on the UK market in 2014 are likely to be slightly higher than in 2013 but will remain lower than in previous years.