Pig numbers in the US have reached a record high as farming industry chiefs release a warning about the potential for North American pork to appear on British plates in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
The number of pigs was up 2.1 per cent on last year at 74.3 million-head, according to the US Department of Agriculture. But farrowing intentions for summer were down, with producers likely reacting to poor returns last autumn and winter.
And US pigmeat could find a place in the UK market if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, according to AHDB.
Under the no-deal tariff regime published by the Government, EU pork would become more expensive to import, but other global suppliers would become more competitive.
The US and Canada, which generally have lower prices due to low costs of production, were listed as able to supply raw pigmeat into the EU, which was expected to roll over to the UK.
The current EU tariff levels make US and Canadian pig prices about 35p/kg more expensive than British.
But the new tariff would leave last year’s US prices 33p/kg lower than British prices, or 39p/kg lower for Canadian pork.
AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkes said this was a simplification and trade would depend on price of cuts and product suitability, highlighting products, using ractopamine, could not be imported into the UK.
She added: “However, if in the longer term there is still no deal. This increases GB exposure to the global pork market, meaning British pig prices could be more volatile, and generally lower, in the future.”