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UK production to rise but China effect should boost prices

7th May 2019 / By Alistair Driver

UK pig production is expected to increase by 1% in 2019 to 935,000 tonnes, but rising export demand should support higher prices, according to AHDB’s latest market outlook.

The modest production boost is expected to come from a 1% increase in slaughterings to 10.7 million pigs, with sow productivity expected to recover after a difficult year and average carcase weights forecast to rise. Growth will be biased towards the end of the year and is likely to continue into 2020.

AHDB forecast ap 19

The breeding herd appears to have been broadly stable towards the end of 2018, but some growth is anticipated in 2019. 

There is currently a lot of frustration across the sector at the lack of movement in pig prices at a time when prices are soaring globally on the back of higher Chinese demand. However, the China effect is expected to feed through to UK prices as the year progresses.

China-driven demand could see a 5% increase in export volumes to a new high of 279,000 tonnes, following export growth last year.

"Chinese import demand should draw more lower-value pork from the UK and EU markets this year," the outlook document predicted. As UK production is only expected to rise modestly, this could leave less pig meat available for consumption here. This should help improve carcase values, and support prices at farmgate level," the outlook document stated. 

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