Rising Grain Prices Hit Pig Numbers in Hungary

HUNGARY - Pig numbers in Hungary have fallen to 3.86 million down from about 10 million in the 1980s, according to latest reports.
calendar icon 4 April 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

And the official figures from the Hungarian Agriculture Ministry show that there has been a steady decline over the last four years, despite a slight increase in 2006.

"The number of pigs amounted to four million at the end of 2006; this number was 134,000 more (3.5 per cent) than a year earlier. The enterprises kept 290,000 sows, 13,000 more (4.7 per cent) than in the previous year. Economic enterprises increased, but the individual farmers decreased their sow stocks," the ministry says.

"During the last 10 years, the number of pigs has ranged between 3.5 and 5.8 million. In the last three years their number was about 5.4 million, and there were one million pigs fewer on 1 December 2006 than at the beginning of December in 2003.

"Due to the low level of domestic pig stocks, slaughterhouses purchased the raw materials needed for production from external markets. Imports of live pigs and pork grew after Hungary's EU accession: 20 per cent of total purchases were live pig imports, and the quantity of pork imported in 2006 increased by three times by comparison with 2003."

According to reports in the British Guardian newspaper, the blame for the decline in the pig herd lies with the "global rally in grains prices, coupled with a serious drought in Hungary which halved the maize crop last year" .

The country is also having to manage falling consumption and a weak economy.

The Guardian report points to the small pig farmers who are bing hit the hardest by the current situation.

"With global grains prices projected to rise by 20 to 50 per cent 2016, according to an OECD survey published last year, smaller farms in eastern Europe will find it increasingly difficult to compete with their bigger, more efficient rivals," says the report.

"Hungary's farm ministry said last month 60 percent of the pig stock was concentrated at farms breeding 1,000 pigs or more, while the EU projects most pig farming in the bloc to be centred in France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy by 2013."

View the Guardian story by clicking here.
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