May 17, 2024


EU pork production rises 5% in early 2024, driven by Spain, Germany, and Poland


EU pork production reached over 3.7 million tonnes in the first two months of 2024, marking a 5% increase compared to the same period in 2023, primarily driven by increased production in Spain, Germany, and Poland, UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board reported.


The rise in production corresponds with an increase in slaughter numbers. Spain reported a 3% increase from 2023, reaching 9.7 million head in 2024. Germany and Poland showed year-on-year growth of 5% and 11%, respectively, with Germany reaching 7.5 million head and Poland 3.3 million head.


Among the top six pork producers in the EU, Denmark was the only country to report a decline in production, with a reduction of 2,610 tonnes from 2023. Denmark's slaughter numbers also fell by 190,000 head (-7%) to 2.6 million head. Despite this, Danish statistics from April 1, 2024, indicate a nearly 7% increase in the total swine population compared to last year. However, this growth is seen against a low base in 2023. When compared to January 1, there has been a modest 0.7% increase, indicating relative stability.


EU Grade E swine prices have shown relative stability in recent weeks. Average swine prices rose from early 2024 levels, where weakening demand had driven prices down. For the week ending May 5, the EU average price stood at 187.11p/kg, with the market reported to be in balance. Prices have fluctuated between 187 and 188p/kg over the past six weeks, up almost 4p since the start of the year. The price difference between the UK and EU now sits at 21.8p/kg, aligning with more typical trends after a larger disparity at the beginning of the year and a narrower gap in 2023.


Among key producing nations, France recorded the largest price growth since the start of the year, up 21.5p. Spain saw the second-largest increase, up 14.1p, with smaller gains in Poland, Germany, and Belgium ranging between 5 and 7p. Conversely, Denmark and the Netherlands experienced price drops of 9.9p and 13.4p, respectively.


The European Commission's latest outlook predicts stable demand within the EU, which is expected to support current pricing given market conditions. However, shifts in consumption could pressure the market.


The December 2023 survey indicated a 170,000-head increase in breeding sow numbers, suggesting small signs of recovery after three years of decline. However, the number of fattening swine is down year-on-year, a trend expected to continue through the first half of 2024. While feed prices softened in 2023, poor predicted yields due to unfavourable weather in Europe may pressure feed prices in the second half of the year. The African swine fever (ASF) situation is not expected to change significantly in 2024, leading to a marginal overall decline in swine production of -0.4% for the year.


Exports of pork have been hampered by higher prices compared to key competitors like the USA and Brazil, with a near 25% fall in 2023. If domestic high prices persist, the European Commission predicts a further 4% decline in export volumes in 2024.


EU imports from the UK fell by 25%, coinciding with the UK's drop in production. EU imports are expected to remain low, with a further decline of 2% projected for 2024, given the lack of short-term replacement imports from other origins. These factors, combined with steady consumption and lower exports, could lead to potentially higher available supplies within the EU.


-      UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board

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