According to data released be Defra, the production of pig meat in the UK in January 2022 came in a 85,500 tonnes – 8% higher than in the January 2021, returning almost to the level produced in the same month in 2020.
AHDB analyst for red meat and dairy, Freya Shuttleworth, explained, however, that the way in which production has increased demonstrates the problems facing the sector.
“Although production was 8% higher than the same month a year ago, the number of clean pigs slaughtered in January was only 2% higher,” said Ms Shuttelworth, pointing out that the bulk of the production increase was due to heavier pigs as the average clean pig carcase weight in January rose to 94.3kg/head, up 8kg/head (5%) from the same time last year, and up 3.4kg/head since December.
Compared to December, slaughter in January dropped by 79,500 head to 872,600.
Reduced butchery capacity at abattoirs and processors have proven the biggest issue limiting clean pig slaughter. Ms Shuttleworth added that the elevated carcase weights provide a “real-time” indication of whether any progress is being made on the backlog of pigs.
“January’s data shows that there is still a long way to go before the current backlog of pigs is cleared,” she said.