Slaughterings plummet and carcase weights soar as pig backlog grows
2nd Sep 2021 / By Alistair Driver
Last week's pig slaughterings were down by 24,000 head on last year, as the pig backlog continues to build, AHDB figures show. Meanwhile carcase weights are increasing and pig prices are falling.
The NPA estimated last week that there were about 70,000 pigs backed up on farm due to the labour shortages hitting the processing sector, a figure growing at an estimated 15,000 per week.
This was reinforced by AHDB's latest market update, which showed estimated slaughterings of finished pigs at GB abattoirs in the week ending August 28 totalled 158,300, down 1,700 on the previous week, 24,000 (13%) on a year ago and 16,100 (10%) below the five-year average.
Unsurprisingly, average carcase weights, which topped 90kg during the last backlog over the first two months of this year, are growing rapidly, reaching 88.40kg for the week, 1.19kg heavier than the week before, and 3.2kg heavier than a year ago.
“These figures support reports of continued backlog issues in the supply chain, with labour issues causing reduced abattoir throughput,” AHDB said.
The EU-spec SPP slipped a further 0.55p to average 158.70p/kg, putting it 3.68p below the price for the same week a year ago, but 5.69p above the five-year average.
In the week ending August 21, the EU-spec APP slipped 0.1p on the week before to average 164.70p/kg, putting it 1.21p behind the price for the same week a year ago and widening the gap between the SPP and APP.
To see the weekly price graphs, CLICK HERE
The UK price is coming under pressure from falling EU prices, which continue to slip, reflecting insufficient demand, both on domestic and export markets, in the face of higher pig meat production so far this year.
Over the four weeks ending August 22, the EU average reference price decreased by over €6 to just under €145/100kg, the lowest level recorded since March, with the latest average now 11% lower than the 5-year average for the time of year, AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins said.
Over the past three weeks the UK reference price has hovered about 36p/kg above the EU average.
“This is a large difference, with the average over the past five years only around 13p/kg. We would expect this to exert downward pressure on the UK price,” Ms Wilkins added.
Meanwhile, costs of production remain high. Pig producers recorded average losses of £24/pig during the second quarter of this year, only a marginal improvement on the £26/head during the first quarter.