Room for improvement
The publication of the results of the Interpig Survey for 2011 allows a look at the longer term efficiency and competitiveness of pig production across the EU. GB still lags behind many other EU Member States on key productivity measures and therefore experiences higher costs of production.
Much of the recent discussion about the ‘cost of production’ in the pig industry has focused on its relationship to market prices and how the market has been slow to react to the escalating cost of feed in the last year. Feed accounts for around 70% of producing a finished pig and currently the average cost of production in the UK, just below 170p per kg, still falls short of the returns from the market at around 160p per kg.
The Interpig survey allows EU countries to benchmark their costs and efficiency much more broadly, looking at all of the key costs of producing pigs as well as the measures of efficiency, which are integral to establishing the ‘cost of production’ within the industry. Although the latest report is based on data for 2011, it nevertheless provides a helpful measure of costs and productivity between the countries submitting data. During 2011, the average cost of production in GB was 153p per kg, compared to 136p per kg in Denmark and 139p per kg in Holland.
One of the more telling measures of efficient production is the ‘number of pigs weaned per sow’ per annum. The average GB figure was 22.6 pigs per annum, compared to 28.8 in Denmark and 28.2 pigs in Holland.
The urgent need for British producers to raise their efficiency in relation to their main EU competitors was acknowledged in their recent press release 'Mind the Gap'.