December 04, 2003
EU Enlargement To Include 10 More Countries Not A Threat To EU Pig Markets
Enlargement of the EU next year to include another 10 member states is not the threat to European pig markets some producers fear.
"Although producers in central and eastern Europe will enjoy some cost advantages, particularly in the area of feed, it will be some years before these countries become a serious threat," said Karsten Flemin, senior economist with Danish slaughterhouse group, Danske Slagterier.
Even though Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are expected to add another 13% to EU pigmeat production, which will bring total output to over 20m tons, farmers in these countries still lack the scale and technical efficiency to compete.
They will also face extra costs to meet EU animal health, welfare and environmental requirements, said Mr Flemin.
Similarly, processors will have to make significant investments to gain export certification.
"EU accession will accelerate economic growth in most of the applicant countries," he added.
"It is likely that meat consumption and, therefore, meat imports will rise.
"In the short term, these countries are more likely to offer a potential market than a potential threat."
Contracting pig numbers in most EU countries is also positive for pig producers for 2004.
Latest figures from the EU commission, based on summer census data, suggest total pig slaughter in the EU 15 in the first half of next year will come to 99.8m head, 0.8% less than in the same period of 2003.
Significantly, the number of breeding sows and gilts in-pig coming through are also well down in most member states.