UK pig sector – looking up, and looking over the edge

Pig production in the UK has a long history but the stats suggest that the sector has shrunk significantly in the last two decades and it now provides only about half of the country’s pigmeat needs. Farmers have blamed the industry’s loss of competitiveness on: disease outbreaks, high feed prices, environmental regulations, the multiple retailers, and, Continue reading

Russia’s influence on the global pork trade

One British Prime Minister was once quoted as saying that, “a week is a long time in politics”. Right now it seems that a week is a very long time in the global pork trade….. Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Danish farmers aim high at the Herning Congress

I was in Denmark last week – to be precise I was in Jutland in the small town of Herning. The conference centre there is the venue for a gathering of Danish pig farmers who are treated to a packed programme of experts and speakers who  inform them of; what has been happening in technology and pig production policies, about best practice on the farm, and where the industry needs to focus if it is to remain competitive in the years ahead. So it was that I mixed with +2000 pig farmers and their employees (almost half of the sector) at the Herning Congress for two days. There wasn’t a BBQ to be seen but the hot dog stands (courtesy of Tican and Danish Crown) Continue reading

Horse trading gives a boost to science & a COOL EU

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EU welfare rules give Hercule Poirot a challenge

How easy is it to get the wrong end of the stick? Very, especially if you listen to some people.  Some of the comments that have been thrown around in the media in recent weeks about EU welfare rules provide a salutary lesson for the year’s end.

The BBC’s flagship radio farming programme broadcast the view (21 December) that, “nearly half of EU member states will be producing illegal pork from the start of January.” This view followed the press release a day earlier by the UK’s National Pig Association (NPA) that, “Around 40,000 ‘illegal’ pigs an hour will be entering Continue reading

No Santa rally for EU’s pig prices – or 2013 shortage

In the run up to Christmas all livestock producers hope to get something extra from the market. In Europe there seems no hope of any such bonus this year. Pig prices have been weakening for the last month and look set to enter the holiday season on a falling trend. The price data for November and December offer no early Christmas presents for farmers: no Santa rally is evident anywhere – not even in Lapland.

There is more detail on these prices in the latest issue of Whole Hog Brief and it seems that Continue reading

EU welfare rules create confusion for forecasters

October 2012

The October issue of Whole Hog gives a focus to the reports from various EU member states about the newsow stalls welfare rules and how they will affect sow numbers in 2013. The only thing that is clear is that it’s not clear…..The impact of recent the feed price hikes is also an issue.  The US hog census results are discussed in the issue and it seems too soon to call a sow cutback.  The EU’s latest Outlook report does, however, predict a fall in pork exports in 2013 and this is described in the issue.   Pig prices in Europe seem to have hit a plateau after recent record hikes.

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