AHDB analysis shows slower growth in EU pig meat sector

Pig meat production in the European Union increased by 1.2% last year, but production growth for 2021 is forecast at 0.7%.

23 April 2021, at 9:59am

According to the the European Commission’s short-term outlook, the trading bloc increased pig meat production by 1.2% in 2020. However, production is forecast to increase by only 0.7% in 2021.

The December 2020 livestock survey indicates an increase in the number of fattening pigs of 750,000 head (+0.8%). This is expected to lead to an increase in production in the first half of 2021. On the other hand, the number of sows fell by 0.5%, so any production growth in the latter part of the year will be driven entirely by performance gains.

Exports of pig meat were up by 18% in 2020. By far the largest share went to China, increasing its trade with the EU by around 1 million tonnes, despite difficulties with African swine fever cases in the German wild boar herd. Other EU member states were able to take over the gap left by German traders, although some are still facing similar export restrictions.

After two years of impressive growth, exports in 2021 are expected to decrease (-2%) but will remain at very high levels. Although the pig meat sector in China is recovering, new cases of ASF are still appearing, which may slow down progress. The recovery from ASF in other Asian regions is expected to take even more time.

The apparent consumption of pig meat is projected to increase to 32.7kg per capita (+1.4%) as more pig meat will be available on the domestic market. Although higher than 2020, this is still a relatively low level in historic terms.

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