New figures from Defra show a 2.8% year-on-year reduction in the total number of pigs in England with breeding herd numbers down 5.3%.
“The total number of pigs in England decreased by 2.8% from 4.1m animals in 2013 to 4m in 2014,” it is stated in Defra’s farming statistics report for the year to June 1, 2014. “This decrease was driven by a 2.5% fall in the number of fattening pigs which account for 90% of all pigs.”
For breeding numbers, the report shows the female breeding herd falling by 4.8% to 329,000 and other breeding pigs declining from 88,000 to 82,000, all of which adds up to a total breeding herd decrease of 5.3%.
Commenting on the figures, BPEX said that while, at 329,000, this is now the “smallest English breeding herd in 60 years”, productivity is still pushing the overall pig herd to higher levels.
“Despite improving profitability recently, producers were previously in a loss making situation for several years,” said BPEX. “The industry as a whole has not completely recovered from the losses incurred during that period, despite costs falling below pig prices. As a result, the latest female breeding herd figures reflect producer reluctance to make further investments in expansion at this stage.”
Another set of government figures, also published today, show that while average prices in food stores fell in August for the “first time in this store type since December 2004″, the offer of cheaper food had no impact of either consumer spending on food or the volumes purchased. August 2014 figures for both these factors recorded a 0.2% fall during the month.