March 26, 2004



EU Pig Prices Up 30%


Hog prices in the European Union have increased by 30% since the start of the year, but the stronger Pound against the Euro has limited domestic increases to just over 5%.


But after three months of continuous improvement, EU and UK pig prices appear to be stabilising.


The average price in the six biggest pig producing countries in Europe now stands at €132/100kg - equivalent to 89p/kg.


The UK Adjusted Euro-Spec Average (AESA) has reached 105.22p/kg, compared with 99.82p/kg in early Jan.


But the Euro, which has weakened to 67.37p compared with 70.6p at the start of the year, has effectively given pig meat importers a 4.5% advantage.


The surprise announcement by European Commissioners to withdraw export restitutions may also knock EU prices.


These refunds were expected to remain in place until the end of April but the EU pig meat management committee felt that recent price rises meant there was no longer any need for this emergency aid package to continue.


The market will also have to absorb an estimated 80,000t of pig meat due for release from the Private Storage Aid scheme over the next three months.


The premium between EU and UK prices may have narrowed to less than 20p/kg, but domestic producers cannot ignore the effect of imports on the home market, which is now barely 50% self sufficient.