Europe’s pig farmers top the league table

I am often asked to assess the competitiveness of pig producers in different countries. But comparing the performance of farmers in different countries is tricky – exchange rate variations often misrepresent the actual competitiveness of producers at a particular moment. However, technical comparisons – without money valuations – can give a more reliable insight through time. On that score the latest InterPIG report (using 2012 data for 16 countries and regions) produced by BPEX/AHDB appears to prove that some of Europe’s pig farmers are the most technically advanced in the world. I have made a full write up of the InterPIG report in the November issue of Whole Hog and you can purchase the BPEX report at   The data in the report suggest that the British pig industry is still some way behind its EU and global competitors across a range of financial and physical measures of performance.

Which countries top the league table?

WH Issue 226 page 2 193273The key performance indicators provided in the report (and shown here on page 2 of the November Whole Hog)  indicate who are the winners and losers in the global performance table for pig production. Who gets the most pigs weaned per sow per year and the most pigs finished per sow per year? France, the Netherlands,Denmark and Germany all score highly on these measures.  The range in performance is wide with Denmark managing 29.6 pigs weaned per sow per year compared to British and Canadian producers  managing only 22.8 and 23.6 pigs weaned per sow respectively. Pigs finished per sow per year is another key metric and the French, Dutch and Danes seem to have this management action well organised too. Danish farmers get 27.8 pigs weaned per sow per year – and that is 28% more productivity for a Danish breeding unit than a British unit. There is a similar gap with North American pig units.

Pig production is ultimately about the meat produced from each breeding animal and the amount of meat produced per sow per year is probably the most  important measure of efficiency. The comparison of data for carcase meat production per sow illustrates how far apart countries in the global league table are. The British pig industry achieved 1.707 tonnes per sow per year compared with the Dutch output of 2.464 tonnes per sow. The Danes managed to get 2.247 tonnes per sow.

Do these rankings in the global league tables for pig production technical performance matter?

Well, technical ability isn’t everything as poor technical performance can be compensated for access to low cost resources – but, in the long run and in a world where resources and products can be traded freely, there can only be one aim for pig producers – to be top of the class. At the moment it would seem that Europe’s pig producers hold that position.

 Dr John Strak, Editor Whole Hog