The latest figures show that just 87 slaughterhouses killed pigs in 2021, 6 fewer than in 2020 and 38 fewer than a decade ago.
The number of specialists plants* has also reduced, now standing at 11, down 1 from 2020 and 5 fewer than a decade ago. These specialist plants accounted for 77% of the total throughput in England in 2021.
Consolidation in the industry continues with the loss of smaller slaughterhouses. The 11 largest plants (those that slaughter over 100,000 head a year) accounted for 92% of total slaughter, the same proportion as the previous year. The top eight abattoirs (those killing over 500,000 pigs a year) maintained an 83% share of the English kill.
Although consolidation may pose benefits for efficiency, concentrating slaughter presents a risk if one or more of the larger plants have a major breakdown or have to reduce capacity. The last 12 months has been one such example, as staff shortages curtailed throughputs, resulting in pigs backing up on farms.
Freya Shuttleworth / AHDB