GB production costs still higher than the rest of the EU

Pig production costs in Great Britain last year were higher than in most other major producing countries, including all of the main export suppliers of pork to the GB market, according BPEX’s latest annual report comparing costs of pig production internationally.

The 2012 edition of Pig Cost of Production in Selected Countries is based on data from InterPIG, an international group of pig economists. It report that, at 153p/kg, GB costs were 7p above the average of the EU members of InterPIG, and nearly 20p higher than in Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Spain.

Costs were lower still in Canada and the US, which could have long-term implications, given current Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

A number of factors contributed to the higher costs in Great Britain, with more expensive feed and lower slaughter weights having a part to play. However, the most important factor was low sow productivity. Overall, the number of pigs weaned per sow per year, at 22.8, was the lowest of the countries covered in the report; the EU average was 25.4.

The GB’s outdoor breeding system contributed to this, but even our indoor sows were less productive than the average. The main reason for this low productivity is small litter sizes. At 11.5 piglets, our average litter was well below the Danish average of 15.1 and more than one piglet below the EU average of 12.7. Even the indoor figure of 12.1 was below par.

On a brighter note, the performance of the GB rearing and finishing herds was at or better than the EU average. Even so, there’s some room for improvement, with the Dutch achieving significantly better feed efficiency than the British.

Key points from the report include:

  • The cost of pig meat production in Great Britain increased by 2% in 2012, to £1.53/kg.
  • The average cost of production in the EU was £1.46/kg deadweight, a 2% reduction in sterling terms compared to 2011.
  • The majority of EU countries, except Belgium, Great Britain and Sweden, experienced a reduction in the costs of production (in sterling terms) compared to 2011.
  • Average producer prices were higher in 2012 than in 2011, with four EU countries having production costs below the EU average reference price.
  • Average feed prices were higher in 2012 than in 2011, increasing by 3.5% on average across the EU countries.
  • In 2012 as a whole, EU feed costs increased by 2% compared with a year earlier, in sterling terms. The cost increase in Great Britain was 6%t, the second highest in the EU.
  • Four EU countries experienced a reduction in feed costs compared with 2011.
  • The overall average number of pigs weaned per sow per year in the European InterPIG countries showed a 2% increase in 2012, up from 24.99 in 2011 to 25.41. There was a 1% increase in pigs weaned per sow in Great Britain to 22.80, this was the lowest among the InterPIG members.
  • The main reason Great Britain has a below average number of pigs weaned per sow lies in the number of pigs born alive per litter. The 2012 average, at 11.54, was lower than all but one of the European InterPIG members, although it was an increase compared to 11.39 in 2011. The EU average was 12.71, with five EU countries achieving more than 13 pigs born alive per litter.
  • The average number of pigs finished per sow in Great Britain increased in 2012. At 21.69 pigs per sow, average performance was 0.36 pigs higher than in 2011.
  • Great Britain produced 1.71 tonnes of carcase meat per sow in 2012, 1% higher than in 2011 because of the small increase in the number of pigs finished per sow.

The full report can be downloaded from:

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