Costs of GB pig production eased slightly in January, to 146.3p/kg deadweight, according to the latest estimate from BPEX.

“Although this is around 2p lower than December, this can be attributed to heavier carcass weights,” said the report.

Underlying costs had been stable since September, with recently weaker wheat markets yet to filter through to compound feed prices.

Current production costs were 26.7p/kg lower than last January, when they reached a record high of 173p/kg. That compared to a deadweight average price of 159p/kg a year ago, compared with about 167p now.

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“With both prices having moved in favour of pig producers, a loss of £11/pig has been transformed into a positive margin of £18 a head,” said the BPEX report.

“Nevertheless, the profitability of the sector remains vulnerable to any future shocks in global cereals or oilseeds markets.”

UK clean pig slaughterings in December were below 2012 for the second consecutive month, at 758,300 head – a drop of 1% on the year.

But throughputs for the year as a whole reached 10.05m head, 12,000 more than in 2012. Heavier carcasses meant overall production increased by 1%, to 832,900t.