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Denmark, UK Lead EU Pig Sector Recovery

by 5m Editor
5 March 2010, at 8:43am

GLOBAL - Denmark and UK are leading the revival in the EU pig sector, while Russia and China are aiming at self-sufficiency.

Denmark and the UK will lead a recovery in Europe's pig sector, which last year saw piglet production fall to its lowest level since the 1990s as economic downturn pushed many operators into liquidation, according to AgriMoney.

EU piglet output will rise by 1.5 million animals to 256.0 million head in 2010, the first rise in three years, to feed a rebound in demand for pork from Chinese and Russian importers.

The increase will be led by Denmark – which, unlike some other EU states, already exports pork directly to China – and the UK, which was shielded from the worst of last year's downturn by the weakness of the pound.

"The low sterling-euro exchange rate benefited profitability to which [UK] farmers responded by increasing sow stocks," a report from the US Department of Agriculture's European staff said.

Poland and Spain had felt the brunt of the slump, accounting between them for nearly half Europe's piglet output cutbacks.

The sector has been in distress since mid-2007, hit first by high feed prices before the global economic recession dented demand for pork, of which EU exports tumbled 18.2 per cent to 1.41 million tonnes last year.

However, pork exports to Russia look likely to be supported by, besides economic revival, a dearth of alternative suppliers after Moscow tightened hygiene standards, limiting trade with many countries.

"The supply of competitive pork exporters to the Russian market has been cut off," the report said.

According to AgriMoney, Russia is attempting to become self sufficient in pork by 2012 as part of a plan to reduce its huge levels of meat imports. The country is the world's second biggest importer of pork – and the biggest, on a net basis, of both beef and poultry.

While China is also aiming to meet its own needs, it will rely increasingly on imports for pork by-products nonetheless, providing an opportunity for European producers, the briefing added.