UK pig slaughterings recovered slightly in October but remain well down on 2022 levels.
The latest Defra slaughter statistics show UK clean pig slaugherings at 882,000 in October, compared with 813,000 in September, but still nearly 8% down on the October 2022 figure of 958,000.
On a weekly basis, clean pig slaugherings averaged 199,000 in October, up from 190,000 in September, but well down on the 216,000 pigs per week in October 2022.
Pigmeat production in October was 82,000 tonnes, down by a similar proportion, 7.8%, on October 2022.
While throughputs remain well down, carcase weights are rising, topping 91kg for the first time in 18 months last week, and currently standing 1.6kg ahead of a year ago.
AHDB analyst Soumya Behera said rising carcase weights are contributing to the current pressure on UK pig prices.
The EU spec SPP, currently just over 217p/kg has declined by 8.5 since mid-August, driven partly by falling EU pig prices, which have fallen by more than 30p since late July. “The volatility in the EU market has been more pronounced than the price declines we have seen in the UK,” Ms Behera said.
Weak domestic and international demand is also driving prices lower. “Within GB, rising geopolitical uncertainty, inflationary pressures, and the cost-of-living crisis has meant consumption of most proteins is under pressure,” she added.
According to Kantar Worldpanel data only poultry meat is in growth compared to the previous 52 weeks, with its low price point per kg attracting shoppers to switch from other proteins.
As a result, the volume of pig meat purchased through retail has fallen by 2.6% for the 52 weeks ending October 1. More expensive products such as roasting joints and chops and steaks have experienced the biggest falls, which has not been offset by growth in bacon, sausages and mince.
Pork consumption is in growth in the foodservice market, however, and continuing to recover from Covid. However, overall consumption is in decline when both retail and foodservice is combined, by 1.3% year-on-year for the 52 weeks ending September 3 2023, according AHDB estimates based on Kantar data.
Despite pig production remaining well back compared to 2022, the position of supplies could also be providing some price pressure, Ms Behera added, highlighting increased pig slaughterings in October compared with September.
“This is combined with some moderate increases to carcase weights. The increase in carcase weights is most likely following seasonal trends with cooler weather supporting growth,” she said.
“These factors may add to the available supplies. Under the current market scenario, particularly the pressure from the EU marketplace and lower demand, it may continue to suggest some easing in the marketplace.”