EU Pig Meat Production Starting to Pick Up Slowly

EU - Pig meat production is starting to pick up slowly after two years of tight supplies, according to the European Commission's Summer 2014 Short-Term Agricultural Outlook.
calendar icon 10 July 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

Following the compulsory introduction of the welfare rules for breeding sows by December 2013, the 2013 number of breeding sows was still 1.6 per cent below 2012 at 15.2 million heads. Declines in Germany (-three per cent ), France (-3.1 per cent ), Poland (-5.6 per cent ) and Italy (-five per cent) were partly offset by increases in the Netherlands (+1.3 per cent ) and Denmark (+2.4 per cent).

The implementation of group housing for sows and the low profits of last years translated in a shortfall in the number of piglets going into production, with high prices for piglets recorded at the beginning of the year, peaking at 54 EUR/head in April (nine per cent above the 2012-13 average).

The Russian ban on EU pig meat introduced after the discovery of a few cases of African Swine Fever in wild boars close to the border with Belarus added uncertainty on the market.

Against this background, pig meat production in 2014 is anticipated to increase only marginally by 0.2 per cent , with higher supplies in Denmark and the Netherlands expected to compensate for potential drops in France, Germany and Spain. Provided that market conditions will improve next year, production could recover at a slightly stronger pace in 2015 (+0.8 per cent).

In the first four months of the year, shipments to Russia decreased by 80 per cent compared to last year; however the strong Asian demand limited the decrease of total EU exports to 16 per cent. The reduction in the US supply in 2014 following the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus outbreak has contributed to the increase in the demand for EU pig meat coming from the Asian markets (China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore or Philippines).

Nevertheless, given that Russian volumes account for one third in total EU exports, the strong Asian demand is not expected to fully compensate for the sharp drop of exports towards Russia and over the whole year the EU exports are expected to fall for the first time in several years (-seven per cent compared to 2013). Given the uncertainty related to trade developments with Russia, EU exports of pig meat are currently estimated to recover only marginally in 2015. Without agreement of Russia on the regionalisation system implemented by the EU, EU pig meat exports might be further affected.

There is currently a relatively good demand for pig meat throughout the EU with prices five per cent below the 2012-13 average at 164 EUR/100 kg; thus 2014 consumption is likely to slightly recover from the 2013 low (31 kg/capita) to finally reach 31.4 kg/capita in 2015 (in retail weight).

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