The latest AHDB figures show a worrying continuation in the decline of English pig abattoirs.
Recent AHDB figures show that only 87 English slaughterhouses killed pigs in 2021 – a decrease of six since 2020, and a decrease of 38 since 2011.
The number of specialist plants, abattoirs where 95% of slaughterings are pig, which accounted for 77% of the total throughput in England in 2021, dropped by one year-on-year and five since a decade ago.
Smaller slaughterhouses also recorded reductions in 2021. However, the 11 largest plants, which slaughter more than 100,000 head a year, still accounted for 92% of total slaughter numbers (as they did in 2020). Similarly, the top eight abattoirs, that kill more than 500,000 pigs per year, also maintained their 83% share of English kill figures in 2021.
While a reduction, and therefore consolidation, of slaughterhouses may prove beneficial to throughput efficiencies, AHDB livestock analyst Freya Shuttleworth warns of the risk it also brings if one or more of the larger plants should have a breakdown.
She says that the last 12 months are evidence of how large-scale abattoir failures – in the recent case, from staff shortages – can cause disastrous industry effects, such as the backlog of pigs on farms.