Speaking at a market outlook conference held in London by the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board, a leading pork analyst forecasted a recovery in the size of the UK pig breeding herd.

The national herd at the end of 2008 contained only 427,000 sows, said James Park, senior analyst with BPEX, the country’s levy-funded pork industry association. There was a small increase to 438,000 in 2009, and the latest expectation is that the United Kingdom will have 460,000 sows by the end of 2010 and 465,000 sows in 2011.

Continued improvements in productivity are expected to translate this expansion into a rise in annual slaughter pig production from 8.8 million pigs in 2009 to 9 million in 2010 and 9.7 million next year. The average carcass weight per pig has risen from 76.6 kilograms in 2008 to 78.1 kilograms in 2009. It is now predicted to become 78.9 kilograms this year and again in 2011, taking the United Kingdom’s total production of pig meat to 741,000 metric tons in 2010 and 794,000 metric tons in 2011, from a level in 2009 now put at 720,000 metric tons.