Pig meat supply will ease during 2014

The latest AHDB/BPEX forecasts for UK pig meat supplies predict that the tight situation on the UK market may ease during 2014, although availability will still be below the levels recorded in 2012.

With data from the June agricultural census showing a 2% year-on-year decline in the UK breeding herd, numbers of finished pigs will remain constrained in the near future. With producers having lost money for a sustained period, confidence will be slow to return. Therefore, it’s unlikely that there will be any significant expansion of the breeding herd in the near future.

However, with a more stable position, productivity gains should mean that slaughterings resume their upward trend as 2014 progresses, with throughputs for the year as a whole forecast to be 2% up on 2013.

BPEX says that unless feed prices rise again, sow slaughterings and carcase weights are expected to be similar to those in 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.

UK imports have been subdued so far this year and only a modest recovery is forecast for 2014, assuming the gap between EU and UK pig prices doesn’t grow significantly. Further growth in exports is expected, given higher production and the possible opening of more markets for a wider range of products.

These developments mean that supplies available for consumption on the UK market in 2014 may be slightly higher than this year, but will remain lower than in previous years.

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