More than 100,000 pigs are backed up on farms due to a 'perfect storm' of events, say the National Pig Association (NPA).

The string of events began with a series of processing plant closures due to Covid-19 in the autumn and subsequent export bans to China on some affected plants.

At the same time, Covid issues across Europe and Germany's African swine fever export ban have resulted in a surplus of pigs and falling prices across the EU.

Disruption to EU exports due to new Brexit checks and bureaucracy - while EU imports continue to enter without the equivalent new checks - have further compounded the problems since the start of the year.

The combination of falling UK prices - the SPP stood at 139.63p/kg during the week ending February 13 - and rising feed and straw costs mean producers 'could have been losing more than 20p/kg in January 2021', AHDB have said.

Throughput for the week, at 175,500 head, was 6,800 lower than the week before, and nearly two per cent lower than the same week last year.

Carcass weights averaged 89.84kg, nearly 700g lighter than the previous week, but still significantly heavier than at this point last year.

The NPA wants to see more done to alleviate the backlog, including, in the short-term, weekend kills at pork plants.

Zoe and Simon Watchorn run an outdoor pig herd on the Norfolk-Suffolk border and they have explained how current losses of approximately £10/pig mean he is losing £3,000 a week, losses that cannot be sustained.

"We are getting to crisis point now – something is going to give," Zoe said.

"We have to find solutions for those farms, whether it be additional throughput and trying to get weekend opportunities going at pork plants, putting more product into storage or increased demand into retail and export markets.

"We have to get this product moving and we have to get these pigs off farm."

The NPA recently brought government and industry for a constructive roundtable event, chaired by farming minister Victoria Prentis with Defra secretary George Eustice in attendance, to discuss the situation and seek short- and longer-term solutions to address the issues.