Record number of pigs slaughtered in the north since January
THE number of pigs slaughtered in Northern Ireland reached record highs in 2021, official government figures show.
The Department of Agriculture (DAERA) recorded 828,115 slaughterings at bacon factories here in the first five months of the year, the busiest start to the year since the department began publishing data in 2003. .
Pig processing has increased year on year in the north since 2016, reaching a record 1.9 million pigs slaughtered in 2020.
But the industry is already up 6% from last year.
Continuing uncertainty around the protocol and the potential ban on the transport of chilled meats from Britain to the north has led some large supermarkets to switch from Britain to local pork suppliers.
While the months leading up to Christmas are traditionally the busiest quarter for pig processing in Northern Ireland, the first quarter of 2021 saw nearly half a million pigs slaughtered here.
This is the busiest first quarter (Q1) on record for the industry and the second highest on record overall, surpassed only by the three months leading up to Christmas last year, when 526,431 pigs were killed.
It comes as the group behind one of the north’s largest pork processing operations reported a significant increase in sales and profits in 2020.
Dartan Hall Holdings, the group behind Co Armagh’s JMW Farms, announced a 383% increase in pre-tax profit to Â£ 14.5million for the year ending September 30, 2020.
It follows a 30% increase in annual revenue to Â£ 83.4million for the period.
The company said it was following an increase in the volume of pigs it processes and the increase in the market value of the animals.
The group processes about 7,000 pigs per week from their operation in Co Armagh, or about one in five pigs slaughtered in the north.
Operation Co Armagh, which is controlled by brothers Jim and Mark Wright, as well as Andrew Irwin, has now launched a bid to develop a Â£ 75million automated pork processing plant in Ballymoney,
The project centers on the site of the former Malton Bacon factory in Agivey, destroyed by fire in June 1998.