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Weekly Overview: Prospects for the European Pig Sector

23 March 2015

GLOBAL - Increases in both pig numbers and productivity in European herds are forecast to create the right conditions for a recovery in EU pork production in 2015 and 2016, according to the latest forecast. Another report highlights that some of the barriers set up by the Community's trading partners are proving difficult to overcome. PED has been confirmed in the US state of Georgia, while African swine fever has been found in wild boar in Russia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In 2014, pig meat production in the European Union started recovering from the low 2013 level supported by lower feed costs and increased productivity.

The latest Short Term Outlook report from the European Commission, covering this year and next, highlights the variation in pork output developments among the 15 original members of the Union and also the increases experienced by some of the 13 newer members, despite the appearance of African Swine Fever a year ago.

After several years of contraction in the number of pigs, preliminary December 2014 livestock survey data indicated an overall increase by 1.2 per cent, while piglet numbers were up by an average 2.4 per cent.

Despite the current low prices, a higher pig herd and increased productivity following the implementation of welfare rules in the sow sector should create conditions for a continuous recovery in production over the projection period at around 23 million tonnes, according to the report.

The absence of the Russian outlet since February 2014 has caused EU pig meat exports to drop by 13 per cent in 2014, despite some success in re-orientation to alternative markets, for example, in Asia. A month ago, the European Commission opened a private storage aid scheme for pig meat to stimulate pig prices and stabilise producer margins.

Significant trade and investment barriers are being built by Europe’s leading trading partners, according to a new report from the European Commission, and these barriers are often difficult to overcome.

The report that looks at the trading relationship with leading trading partners – Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia and the United States – shows that they maintain a variety of barriers that significantly hinder international trade and investment opportunities of EU companies despite the prospects of a global economic recovery.

The Commission report hopes that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations will offer the opportunity to settle at least some of the issues.

In global animal health news, outbreaks of African swine fever have been reported in the last week in wild boar in Lithuania, Latvia and Russia as well as in Zambia, where pig movement controls have been imposed in two regions.

In the most recent report from the United States on new cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea shows an above-average increase in the number of new positive cases in the most recent week, with the first cases being registered in the state of Georgia earlier this month.

In Canada, investment in improved facilities for cleaning and disinfecting pig transport vehicles appears to be paying off.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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