Mixed news for pig industry

The latest pig cost of production report, published by BPEX, has good news for British producers, though not all in the garden is rosy.

The report covers 2008 and costs in GB rose by 12%, against an EU average increase of 24%.

Britain has closed the competitiveness gap with other EU countries, whereas in previous years it had been one of the highest-cost countries.

The improvement in the relative cost of production in Great Britain was due partly to improved physical performance, but it was mainly due to the lower exchange rate.

British production continued to show improvements in post-weaning mortality, down from 7% to 5.6%. By far the most marked improvement in post-weaning mortality in recent years has occurred here.

The average number of pigs finished per sow increased for the fifth consecutive year. At 20.9 pigs/sow, average performance was 4% higher than the previous year and 11% higher than in 2004. This was the highest annual improvement recorded for at least 15 years.

The most marked improvement in daily liveweight gain for feeding herds occurred in Great Britain, up 11% to a record 757g. British results have increased every year since 2003, when they averaged 627g/day, and they are now up to the EU average.

Senior economic analyst and report author Tony Fowler said: Overall, production in Great Britain has been increasing faster than the EU average, up from 75% of the EU average in 2004 to 80% in 2008.

Feed prices have continued to fall in 2008 but due to the depreciation of sterling, they were just 11% lower in sterling terms.

In 2009, there has been a further decline in sterling, but the impact of this has been offset by the increase in British feed prices, leaving competitiveness little changed.

Costs of production in Great Britain averaged 136.8p/kg in 2008, against the EU average of 135.9p/kg. In August 2009, the GB figure was 133.8p/kg against an EU average of 133.4p/kg.

Producers are now in profit, albeit with a large debt burden still to clear a major turnaround compared with 2008 when they were losing money on every pig they sold.

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