Abattoirs slaughtering UK pig processors

Friday, 03 December, 1999

By Peter Crichton

EVIDENCE is emerging that UK producers are being taken for a ride by many of the countrys leading abattoirs.

Although most slaughter buyers have a range of bottom-line deductions, there is no industry-standard carcass classification and grading specification, nor any uniformity as far as offal disposal costs are concerned.

The lack of any common deadweight specification has been starkly illustrated by one Eastern England pig finisher who sent batches of heavy bacon-weight pigs to two different abattoirs.

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One abattoir treated 23 of the 40 pigs sent as overweights and, although the average P2 probe was 13.1mm, the producer was paid an average of £22.66/head – equivalent to 26p/kg dw for all 40 pigs, which averaged 85kg dw.

The second had a similar consignment of 40 pigs from the same farm the following day. They gave a slightly higher 14mm probe and all were classed as overweights at 90kg average carcass weight.

It paid £55/pig – equivalent to about 67p/kg dw.

The difference between the two outlets was £33/pig.

In Holland, similar pigs would be worth an estimated £62/head after allowing for currency adjustments.

Another area of concern involves varying charges made for offal disposal which are deducted from producer payments.

This practice was first announced when many of the cattle slaughterers decided to charge producers for the removal of specified bovine offal in 1996.

Soon afterwards, the Government announced the dropping of the renderers subsidy, which lead to an increase in the costs of removing pig offal from meat plants.

This cost was immediately deducted from producer payments, and normally works out at 70p-£1 per pig.

But what the abattoirs have failed to tell producers is that in most cases the actual cost of removing green offal is only 25-50p per pig.

Others have installed incinerators, which has reduced their offal disposal costs by as much as 50%.

Based on an annual kill of about 13 million pigs, this offal “surcharge” could be costing a near-bankrupt industry a much-needed £5-£7 million a year.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry

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