Low NI slaughter cuts UK pig throughput in August

Thursday, 10 September 2020

By Bethan Wilkins

UK pig throughput fell back in August, with total slaughter at 889,400 head. This was 5% down compared with the same month in 2019. The shortfall was influenced by disruption at a Northern Ireland processing plant during the month. August 2020 also had one less week day than August 2019.

England and Wales throughput was down by 4% year-on-year, though a small decline like this is sensitive to the lost week day. Scottish throughput was still up by 1%. Meanwhile, the number of pigs that entered abattoirs in Northern Ireland came down by 12% on the year.

The number of sows and boars killed in August was down 1% on a year earlier. However, Defra’s survey response is still lower than usual. Caution is still needed over how numbers are split within species, as more FSA data is being used than normal, which may record animal type differently.

As has been the case all year, clean pig carcase weights were higher than a year earlier in August. On average, pigs were about 1.8kg heavier compared with the same month last year at 86.4kg. Ongoing improvements to genetic potential and raised upper weight limits in contracts have enabled producers to add extra weight to their pigs.

The net result was that pig meat production in August totalled 79,600 tonnes, 3% down on the previous year. Cumulative production for the first eight months was still 3% above 2019 levels at 641,300 tonnes.

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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