The Scottish sow herd contracted by 13% in 2012 following industry restructuring and closure of the country’s largest pork processing plant.

According to the Scottish Red Meat Industry Profile, published by Quality Meat Scotland, the sow herd reduced to 28,100 head, while overall pig kill dropped by 7.5% in the calendar year after the closure of the Vion Hall’s of Broxburn plant in October 2012.

Pig prices finished the year on a strong footing, despite higher UK production, with retail prices for pork almost 7% more expensive than the year before.

“Scottish red meat production in 2012 totalled 243,500t, a year-on-year decline of 21,400t, or 8%, ” said QMS head of economic services Stuart Ashworth.

Cattle numbers declined, with the suckler herd down 1% to 517,000 head, partly due to an increase in cow slaughterings.

Abattoirs reported an 8% drop in slaughterings to 480,000 head, with the total volume of beef produced down 7.5%. Despite this, abattoir revenues from beef sales rose 4% on the back of increased prices.

Sheep numbers edged slightly higher to 2.8 million head – a 0.6% increase on 2011, said the report. Farmgate lamb prices fell by 8% in real terms as import volumes jumped.

Retail beef prices averaged nearly 11% higher than the previous year, while lamb prices were up nearly 2%. Annual use of red meat in the UK declined for the fifth year, with consumption down across all three species, said the report.

“Higher retail prices for beef and pork stymied purchased volumes, while tight global sheepmeat supplies resulted in limited availability for much of the year,” said Mr Ashworth.

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