Low slaughter levels mean UK pig meat production falls in November

Thursday, 10 December 2020

By Bronwyn Magee


The latest Defra data shows that the UK produced 83,900 tonnes of pig meat in November. This is 2% (1,600 tonnes) less than the same month last year. Despite this, production for the year-to-date totalled 898,100 tonnes, 2% more when compared to the same period in 2019.


A total of 908,700 clean pigs were slaughtered in November, 6% (53,300 head) lower than the same month in the previous year, and 7% lower than October’s figure. We had forecast a slight increase in slaughter pig availability for Q4 but this has not come through in the slaughter figures. However, reports indicate a noticeable backlog of pigs has developed on farm, with abattoir throughputs restricted due to COVID-19 challenges.

A decline in GB slaughter has driven the overall fall. Clean pig slaughter across England, Wales and Scotland was 8% (62,000 head) down on November last year. In Northern Ireland, throughput was actually 5% higher than last year.

Cumulative clean pig slaughter for Jan-Nov totals to 9.97 million head, virtually on par with 2019.

UK slaughter of sows and boars totalled 20,400 head for the month, down 2,000 head on the same month in 2019. Total throughput for the year so far totalled 224,700 head, down just 500 head from that seen in the same period in 2019.

Carcase weights

Clean carcase weights averaged 89.1kg, an increase of 0.82kg on the previous month and a significant 3.59kg heavier than those seen a year ago. This is the heaviest clean carcase average on record. While rising carcase weights have been a long-term trend, such a large increase is likely the result of delayed pig slaughter due to the backlog waiting on farms.

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