UK pigmeat production increased by 1.2%, 12,600 tonnes, to 1.05 million tonnes last year, despite lower slaughter pig numbers.
A total of 11.2 million clean pigs were slaughtered in 2022, a 0.6% decrease, representing 62,000 head. AHDB analyst Freya Shuttleworth said it was likely that this year-on-year decline in slaughter numbers was due to the additional bank holidays last year, creating fewer working days.
Carcase weights have been the main driver for increased production in 2022. The average of 90.1kg was almost 5kg higher than the annual 5-year average and 2% up on 2021. Average weights peaked at the beginning of the year during the height of the backlog and gradually eased until the autumn then declined again come winter.
UK pig meat production totalled 80,100 tonnes in December 2022, according to the latest Defra data, a drop of 13% (11,8000 tonnes) compared with November as the festive holidays disrupted usual kill patterns. Although December volumes were 11%, 9,800 tonnes, below those seen a year ago, production was marginally above (+0.6%, 400 tonnes) the 5-year average for December.
Clean pig slaughter stood at 884,700 head in December according to Defra, down 11% (110,600 head) from November, again due to disrupted kill over Christmas.
Defra’s figures show the sow and boar kill fell in December to its lowest monthly number since October 2021 at 18,000 head. Numbers of sows and boar do normally drop off in December, with 2021 and the backlog of pigs being the exception. This brings total numbers for the year to 257,000 head – unsurprisingly with the challenges producers have faced, this is an increase of 5% compared to last year and compared to the annual 5-year average, Ms Shuttleworth added.
Carcase weights continued to ease in December with the average sitting at 87.6kg for the month. There is a 3.3kg difference between current weights and the weights seen in December last year when pigs were backing up on farm. However, weights remain above the 5-year average by 1.7kg.