July this year saw losses running at £18-20 a finished pig, with a 20-25p/kg gap between market prices and production costs.
By mid-December, a steady increase in pig prices had reduced losses to about £5.40 a pig.
The impact of high feed prices showed not only in the financial losses suffered by producers but also in structural changes.
Since July, sow slaughtering rates were well above those of 2010 and 2011 as producers temporarily destocked or left the sector altogether.
Those who remain are banking on being rewarded by the market as EU pig numbers tighten further on the introduction of the EU-wide partial sow stalls ban on 1 January next year.
Activity by the “Pigs are still worth it” and “Save our Bacon” campaigns aimed to highlight the welfare advantages of UK pigmeat through the year, although Sainbury’s decision to drop the Red Tractor scheme was condemned by producer groups.
Late in the year, Tesco invited producers to join a new supply group that will offer direct contracts with the retailer.
While the detail of how these contracts will be structured is yet to be revealed, the move was welcomed by many as demonstrating retailer concerns over security of supply.
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