Provisional figures from the EU Commission and Defra (UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) suggest that EU pig meat production decreased in February by 5% year-on-year to 1.85 million tonnes, AHDB Pork said.
However, the decline reduces to less than 1% if production is compared on a like-for-like basis, as 2016 is a leap year and therefore there is one less working day in February this year.
Similarly, clean pig slaughterings were down 6% in February compared with last year, at 20.1 million head, but this is only a 1% decline on a like-for-like basis. Carcase weights, though, were up nearly 600 grammes on February 2016.
The pork division of the UK Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board said these trends were in line with European Commission forecasts earlier this year, which anticipated a small decline in pig slaughter in the first quarter, based on December census results indicating that major producing states had rationalised their breeding herds.
Most key producing member states reported a decline in output compared with a year earlier, although, given the shorter working month this year, these falls are likely to be a little overstated. Poland reported a 7% drop in production volumes. Other year-on-year declines were also reported by Germany (-6%), Denmark (-5%), Spain (-4%) and the Netherlands (-2%).