The UK’s organic pig herd nearly doubled in 2017, new figures from Defra show.
The number of pigs farmed organically in the UK increased from 31,000 to almost 59,000, the largest proportional increase across all sectors, albeit from a very low base
This included just over 5,000 breeding sows and 37,0000 fattening pigs. More than 90% of organic pigs were farmed in England. The total number of organic pigs recorded at the end of June 2017, 4,969, represented 1.2% of the UK pig herd at the time.
The figures showed the first increase in organic farming across the agricultural sector in six years, with the number of producers farming organically rising by almost 2% in 2017. The uplift takes the amount of organic land in the UK to 517,000ha, also up nearly 2% on the previous year.
There are now 6600 organic operators in the UK. Of those, livestock and mixed producers dominate, with 64% of UK organic land classified as grassland.
Organic sheep production increased by 5.5% to 887,000 animals, while organic poultry numbers increased by 8.5% to just over 3m. In the arable sector, 7% of UK organic land is used to grow cereals, with 37,400 ha in organic cereal production.
Organic certifier OF&G, which certifies more than half of the UK’s organic land, said the increase across agriculture showed that farmers were listening to consumer demand and acting on market interest.
“What’s more, more shoppers than ever are looking to buy organic food, and with the report showing a 29.4% increase in UK land currently under organic conversion, it suggests more land will become fully organic in the coming years, which is hugely positive for the sector,” said Roger Kerr, OF&G chief executive.