UK pig production decline greater than expected

Year-on-year UK pork production fell by more than expected for the second quarter of the year.

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork’s July Pig Meat Outlook showed that while it was expected to be lower than year-earlier levels, it was not anticipated to be quite as great a drop.

Production fell 3.6% to 214,900 tonnes. “This was due to clean pig slaughterings falling 0.9% behind expectations, possibly due to the sow herd being below previous estimations,” said AHDB Pork analyst Bethan Wilkins. “As such, the recovery in production in the latter half of the year could be more stable than previously anticipated, without any significant growth on the horizon.”

While production was down, imports showed a surprisingly large increase at 16% on year-earlier levels during January to May. This juxtaposes reports that there were tight supplies on the market. According to Wilkins, this was driven by higher imports of fresh/frozen pork. As a result, it is considered these figures could be somewhat overstated. “This is given industry reports and export figures from trading partners. Imports are still expected to moderate in the latter half of the year, as the tight supply situation eases.”

While imports increased, export shipments fell, as expected. This followed the assumed contraction in available exportable supplies. Although this could pick up in the second half of the year, it could also be limited by Chinese import demand.

“Overall, the extent to which production picks up over the next few months, and the scale of export demand, will be key to determining the market balance in the third quarter,” continued Wilkins. “Supplies look set to move closer in line with demand, which will likely limit any further upward momentum to the pig price. AHDB will reflect on Q3 developments when the next full outlook is produced in October.”

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