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UK market trends

UK pig prices started to move upward in mid-March but official figures show that prices still lag behind the ‘cost of production’ for many producers. Pig production is forecast to decline in the coming year, adversely affecting the UK pig meat ‘trade balance’ which improved in 2012.

UK pig prices finally began an upward move in the second half of March and the DAPP began to rise towards 160p per kg level, which had been reached in December. According to the AHDB, prices still lagged behind the average GB ‘cost of production’. Despite the recent easing of feed prices, the COP remained at around 162p per kg.

The final results of the DEFRA pig census showed that the breeding herd had shrunk to 400,000 sows in December 2012, the lowest level since 1952. However pig production in 2013 is forecast to show a relatively modest decline to 9.8m head, compared to 10.0m in 2012.

However the UK pig meat trade balance did show some improvement in 2012, with a fall in imports of fresh pork and bacon and higher pig meat exports.

The latest consumer purchasing data suggested that higher retail prices, coupled with a lull in promotion activity, were starting to influence sales of pork, bacon and sausages. In the latest quarter, volumes were down following a long period of growth in all three categories. Among the other species, both lamb and beef performed strongly.