Pig meat production continues to rise amid industry challenges

Thursday, 10 February 2022

UK production of pig meat in January 2022 was 85,500 tonnes, according to the latest released data by Defra. This is up 8% on January 2021 and similar to production in 2020 (when 85,700 tonnes of pig meat was produced).

defra pigmeat production jan22

However, the way in which this increased production has arrived demonstrates the problems that the sector is facing. Although production was 8% higher than the same month a year ago, the number of clean pigs slaughtered in January was only 2% higher. The bulk of the production increase was due to heavier pigs. 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 2021, slaughter in January dropped by 79,500 head to 872,600.

defra slaughter figures jan22

Reduced butchery capacity at abattoirs and processors, made worse by the omicron variant of coronavirus, is the biggest driver for limits to clean pig slaughter.  In addition to widespread anecdotal evidence, 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.

Read our latest commentary on reducing the backlog.

Image of staff member Freya Shuttleworth

Freya Shuttleworth

Senior Analyst (Livestock)

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