March 6, 2017
The EU pig breeding herd in December 2016 declined 5% year-on-year, reflecting the legacy of poor financial conditions at the start of last year, AHDB Pork said, citing the latest published data from Eurostat.
Several key producing states contributed to the overall fall including Germany and the Netherlands, which both reported their breeding herds to have declined by 3%.
Spain, which has the largest breeding herd in the EU, also reported a decline of 2%, although the herd is 2% higher than in December 2014. In-pig sows and gilts even decreased more than the overall decline, by 6% year-on-year. The decline in breeding pigs also translated into a smaller overall pig herd, with the EU total for December down 3% from the same month in the previous year.
"Overall, the continuing decline of the EU breeding herd suggests that the currently tight supply situation is likely to continue in the short to midterm", said the pork division of the UK Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board.
It added that prices are expected to remain well above the lows experienced at the start of 2016. "The extent of this will depend, for instance, on the strength of the export market".
AHDB Pork said that despite the recent fall in the EU breeding herd, there were signs of growth emerging. For example, the overall Spanish pig herd was still reported to be 3% higher year-on-year, with 2% more piglets and further expansion anticipated due to increasing numbers of covered gilts. The Polish pig herd has also recovered from the 2015 dip, expanding by 5% with both the breeding and finishing herds increasing in size.