UK pig slaughterings this year will be the lowest for at least three decades Retailers are well accustomed to hearing livestock producers talk of niche marketing as an alternative to commodity supply and can usually dismiss the notion as wishful thinking in response to tumbling prices. But latest indications of future domestic pigmeat output suggest it might make sense this time. UK pig slaughterings this year will be the lowest for at least three decades, according to the most recent analysis by MLC economists. The kill will be only about 10.6 million head, down from 12.4 million in 2000, a much sharper drop than the MLC forecasters were predicting only six months ago. On the face of it this is not surprising against the background of the FMD crisis, but the production collapse has particularly disturbing implications for processors and retailers because it is increasingly clear other influences are more important and will probably suppress pigmeat output for longer than in the beef and lamb sectors. Traders have been aware for months of the relatively limited direct losses due to FMD in the pig industry. At most about 4% of the national herd has been culled, with the main commercial damage caused instead by movement restrictions and the export ban wrecking the sowmeat market. Earlier suggestions of UK clean pig slaughterings remaining below 11 million head annually have become accepted in the last couple of weeks as near certainty. On that basis, total production will be too small to support all the major processors, at least if they try to honour their commitments to home produced raw material. Nevertheless the MLC analysts point out the probable continuation of the export ban well into next year will keep heavy pressure on prices for sow meat and forequarter, the commodity corners of the UK pigmeat market. {{M/E MEAT }}