October 11, 2013


EU pig meat consumption drops three years in a row



As a result of tighter supplies and higher prices, EU's per capita consumption of pig meat has fallen for three years in a row, but should recover slightly next year, as the EU pig herd stabilises.


The January 2013 stalls ban is probably responsible for the drops in the EU pig herd seen in recently-published May-June 2013 survey results, says the European Commission in its latest Short Term Outlook report.


According to the survey, available for 13 countries representing 90% of the EU total, pig numbers dropped -1.3% over the past year with the main producers recording falls: Germany -1.6%; Spain -2.9%; Denmark -1.2%; France -0.6%; and Italy -6.6%.


Breeding sow numbers continue to decline, down -2.4% compared to May-June 2012, with Germany (-5.4%) and Spain (-6.5%) showing particularly big falls. This indicates that farmers' adjustment to the sow stalls regulation is still on-going and it should imply a lower number of slaughter pigs produced in 2013 for the second year in a row, says the Brussels report published this week.


In January-June of 2013, the number of pigs slaughtered was 1.1% lower than last year but because of a growth in average carcass weight, production decreased by only 0.6%.


In spite of the current improvement in margins resulting from lower feed prices and higher pig meat prices, current estimates indicate that the decline in slaughterings compared to last year could be more pronounced in the second part of 2013. This could lead to an overall production decline of 1.2% this year. In 2014 pig meat production should start recovering as farmers will have completed their adaptation to the new welfare rules, says the report.


Good weather conditions this summer improved demand and boosted pig meat prices since June and, in August, they were at €1.90 (US$2.57) a kilogramme deadweight, a level comparable to the record of September last year.


Tightening of supply throughout 2013 should lead to lower exports this year. But Russia will keep its position as main destination with more than one fifth of EU exports.


Russian concern about the use of the feed additive ractopamine in the US and Canada has created opportunities for European producers. China could slowly become the second market for European pig meat.