The latest issue of the Pork Yearbook has been published by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Pork group – formerly the British Pig Executive (BPEX) – giving an overview of the sector in 2014.

Selecting some of the highlights in The BPEX Pork Yearbook 2014-2015, the board’s director, Mick Sloyan, said: “The yearbook reviews the first full year of the delivery of the technical element within the ‘Going for Growth’ strategy and the business plan for the continued delivery of the strategy in 2015-16.”

On the overall health of the sector, and referring to the Russian ban on EU pork imports, the weakness of the Euro relative to the UK Pound and African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks, he said that politics and pig disease have joined forces and had a huge impact on the pig industry over the last year - more so than any other year.

On overall performance of the British pork industry, Sloyan commented: “The industry has already made great strides in productivity and the work to improve still further must continue. We are now producing more pork than at any time since 2000.”

Progress seen in British pig industry

Among the improvements he cited are a 15-gram increase in average daily live weight gain and an 11-point improvement in feed conversion compared to 2013. Overall, the report says, performance was better than the EU average in the feeding herd, although this is partly because British producers finish pigs at lighter weights and males are not castrated.

For the breeding herd too, AHDB reports some progress in terms of performance with an increase in average piglets per sow per year up by half a pig to 24.1. This compares with the EU average of 26.1 pigs, reflecting the additional challenges presented by the “significant proportion” of sows kept outdoors in the Britain, according to the report.

Sloyan also commented on the “tremendous support” received from UK retailers, processors and within export markets, which helped maintain British pig producers’ premium over the prices in the rest of Europe although the premium has  narrowed in recent months.

Exports were worth around GBP350 million (US$541 million) in 2014 with Asia accounting for around 25 percent of the total and China the leading market.

As well as key industry statistics and pig performance data, both nationally and internationally, The BPEX Pork Yearbook 2014-2015 includes details of marketing, knowledge transfer and research and development activity carried out over the last year.

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Copies of the Yearbook are available on the AHDB Pork website [http://pork.ahdb.org.uk/media/73777/bpex-yearbook-2015.pdf] or by emailing Pork.KT@ahdb.org.uk.

AHDB Pork is the organisation for pig levy payers in England and is a division of the AHDB.