Europeans Eat Less Pork for Third Consecutive Year

EU - For three years in a row per capita consumption of pigmeat has fallen in the European Union, as a result of tighter supplies and higher prices.
calendar icon 10 October 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

But consumption should recover slightly next year, as the European Union pig herd stabilises, according to a Brussels report published this week

The January 2013 stalls ban is probably responsible for the drops in the European Union pig herd seen in recently-published May-June 2013 survey results, says the European Commission in its latest Short Term Outlook report.

According to the survey, available for 13 countries representing 90 per cent of the European Union total, pig numbers dropped -1.3 per cent over the past year with the main producers recording falls:

Germany -1.6 per cent
Spain -2.9 per cent
Denmark -1.2 per cent
France -0.6 per cent
Italy -6.6 per cent.

Breeding sow numbers continue to decline, down -2.4 per cent compared to May-June 2012, with Germany (-5.4 per cent) and Spain (-6.5 per cent) showing particularly big falls.

This indicates that farmers' adjustment to the sow stalls regulation is still on-going and it should imply a lower number of slaughter pigs produced in 2013 for the second year in a row, says the report.

In the first six months of 2013, the number of pigs slaughtered was 1.1 per cent lower than last year but because of a growth in average carcass weight, production decreased by only 0.6 per cent.

Current estimates indicate that in spite of the current improvement in margins resulting from lower feed prices and higher pig meat prices, the decline in slaughterings compared to last year could be more pronounced in the second part of 2013.

This could lead to an overall production decline of 1.2 per cent this year. In 2014 pig meat production should start recovering as farmers will have completed their adaptation to the new welfare rules, says the report.

In a context of tight supplies, good weather conditions this summer improved demand and boosted pig meat prices since June and, in August, they were at 1.90 euros (£1.60) a kilo deadweight, a level comparable to the record of September last year.

Tightening of supply throughout 2013 should lead to lower exports this year. But Russia will keep its position as main destination with more than one fifth of European Union exports.

Russian concern about the use of the feed additive Ractopamine in the States and Canada has created opportunities for European producers. China could slowly become the second market for European pig meat.

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