Thursday, 16 July 2020
By Felicity Rusk
In June, UK clean pig slaughter totalled 833,900 head*, 3% more than the same month last year, according to the latest data released by Defra. However, it must be noted that June of this year had two more weekdays compared to last year. This probably supported throughputs when compared to 2019, even though reports indicate there has been some disruption to normal kill days in light of the coronavirus. Industry reports and our weekly estimated GB slaughterings suggested tighter supplies on a week-by-week basis throughout the month. As such, the rise in production seen in June this year is likely a reflection of the two extra weekdays.
The tighter supplies were reflected in figures for Q2 as a whole; 2.54 million pigs were slaughtered during the quarter, 3% less than in the previous year.
In the first half of this year, 5.31 million clean pigs were slaughtered, 1% more than in the first half of last year.
In June, finished pig carcase weights were seasonally lighter, averaging at 85.6kg. This was 1.5kg heavier than in the same month in the previous year, which continues the trend in heavier carcase weights that we have seen this year.
Adult pig slaughter*
A total of 19,000 adult pigs were slaughtered in June, 5% (900 head) more than in the previous year. Cull sow markets have been particularly challenging recently due to the shutdown of a major German processing plant, reducing end-market options. We believe that sow slaughter ought to pick up this year, due to a slighter older breeding herd. However, the ability to do this may be limited in the short-term at least.
UK pig meat production reached 74,100 tonnes in June, 5% (3,400 tonnes) more than in the previous year. This is through a combination of higher throughputs, influenced by the extra weekdays, and heavier average carcase weights.
This means that production in the first half of the year totalled 475,000 tonnes, 3% (11,700 tonnes) more than the same period last year.
*Due to the increased strain COVID-19 is having on the Livestock industry, Defra’s survey responses have been lower than usual for the past two months. To compensate they have made greater use of the Food Standards Agency throughput data to maintain coverage. This may affect how within species numbers are split amongst their classifications; such as how pig numbers are split amongst clean pigs and sows & boars. As such, the data should be treated with some caution and is subject to revision.
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