The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has said that the latest data on UK pig meat shows a “significant” decline in production in February.

The statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed that in February 2023, a total of 762,000 pigs were slaughtered – the lowest recorded monthly figure since May 2014.

As well as this, throughputs are down 11% compared to last month and down 17% year-on-year, sitting 13% below the five year average.

AHDB dairy and livestock senior analyst, Freya Shuttleworth, said pig meat production volumes have followed the slaughter trend, with a monthly decline of 11% to sit at 70,200t in February – 13% below the five year average.

When compared year-on-year, pig meat production has seen a larger decline than slaughter numbers, down 21% due to average carcass weights bring 5kg lighter in 2023 than they were in 2022.

Sow and boar kill figures also fell by 11% in February compared to January, with numbers totalling 16,200 head.

This is the lowest monthly number recorded since October 2021 and is 25% below the five-year average for February.

Shuttleworth said that, although the breeding herd contracted in June, monthly kill figures for sows and boars have averaged 19,300 head between July 2022 and January 2023.

She said that the lower kill figures in February ,ay indicate that “some producers are beginning to hold onto breeding stock to tentatively rebuild their herds”.