A few predictions for 2023 from pig and beef sectors

A few predictions for 2023 from pig and beef sectors

In his new year message National Pig Association (NPA) chairman, Rob Mutimer wants to see profitability return to the sector. Also looking to next year QMS hopes the reopening of Hong Kong to overseas tourists and the partial relaxation of Covid restrictions will help support imports for the local foodservice sector.


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Iain Macdonald, QMS market intelligence manager.

In 2023, the EU Commission is forecasting a fifth consecutive annual decline in overall EU beef production. Ireland is set to be a significant contributor to this fall with Bord Bia projecting a 2% decline in the Irish cattle kill, while carcase weights are likely to continue falling. To meet the gap in supply, EU import demand from non-EU countries is set to grow further, with the EU Commission forecasting a 4% increase in 2023. 

Iain Macdonald, QMS’ market intelligence manager, maintains that: “The UK is well-placed to help meet some of this additional demand, with increased calf registrations in 2021 and higher on farm prime cattle supply as of October 2022 signalling the potential for increased beef production in 2023.

“Though it should be noted that, as the year progresses, UK production growth is expected to slow, with a slightly reduced spring 2022 calf crop in GB to begin reaching slaughter condition in the final quarter.”

While a significant increase in cull cow slaughter in the autumn of 2022 is set to reduce production in the future, this will not take effect immediately. A smaller suckler herd will begin to have more of an impact on calf registrations in spring 2023 and therefore take until the second half of 2024 to begin pressuring prime cattle slaughter, with a more significant impact likely in early 2025.

Looking further afield, UK beef exports to non-EU countries have had a challenging year in 2022, falling back by 36% year-on-year in the first ten months, mostly driven by a sharp reduction in trade with the largest markets of Hong Kong and the Philippines. However, other markets have shown strong growth, with the volume exported to Canada and Japan doubling.

Meanwhile, an ongoing meat deficit in the Philippines could help support a recovery in UK exports of frozen boneless cuts. For both Canada and Japan, the USDA is projecting lower domestic production but higher consumption next year, signalling potential for further expansion of UK beef exports.


NPA’s Rob Mutimer.

NPA’s Rob Mutimer said in his new year message to the industry: “As we enter 2023, I am slightly more optimistic than I was three months ago – but this year has to be about getting some profitability back into pig farms.

“There are more positives than there have been for a while. I think we have got a shortage of pigs coming, both in this country and in the EU, but how big it will be and when it will materialise, I don’t know.”

The supply chain was of grave concern to Mutimer who warned: “One big thing to look out for in 2023 will be the next stage of Defra’s review of contractual relations in the pork supply chain.

“We had over 300 replies to the consultation – a lot of people put a lot of time into describing the situation industry is in, so with a bit of luck, we will get some decent outcomes on that – but it’s going to be a slow process.”

He added that more conversations were needed with the supply chain to make sure that there is enough money in it for everyone involved, adding: “The supply chain has never been more fragile than it is now because a lot of the smaller processors are running on empty. It is incredibly important that we get some sort of stability across all parts of the chain.”

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