The UK government has produced a new update of its regular report on agriculture, and the latest has revealed that the total UK meat production has decreased by 4.1% in 2023. It’s the first time there has been a decrease in total production in over a decade. This decrease was partially caused by the total number of animals being farmed decreasing, with pigs being the ones who have been farmed less (numbers dropped by 10%). 

The report states, “Total meat production in 2023 decreased by 4.1% to 4.2 million tonnes. This is the first decrease in total production in over a decade and levels still remain 16% higher than a decade ago. Over 60% of this decrease has been driven by the large reduction of 11% in the home fed production of pigs. Despite the decrease in overall production quantity, in 2023 the total value of UK meat production rose by 5.8% to £10.9bn, this has largely been driven by substantial price increases for cattle, pigs and poultry.”

Also, the report shows that the value of milk and milk products decreased by 10% to £6.0bn, driven by a decrease in prices from an all-time high in 2022. The volume of milk produced in 2023 remains unchanged from production levels in 2022. However, the value of eggs for human consumption increased by 30% to £1.0bn, although production decreased by 8.0% to 0.9 billion dozen.

Although the number of vegans and vegetarians has been increasing over time, the reason for the decline in meat production is unlikely to be because of falling demand, but rather because of adverse weather conditions possibly caused by the current climate crisis. This suggests that animal agriculture itself, with all the greenhouse gas emissions it produces, is partially responsible for this decrease — which is not surprising as the animal agriculture industry is intrinsically unsustainable.

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Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.