EU pig supply set to remain tight this year

Members of the European Commission’s working group on pig meat forecast that pig supplies are set to tighten further in 2014.

Reporting the numbers in Pig Market Weekly, BPEX says the group’s figures suggest another 1% decline in slaughterings this year compared with 2013, although the rate of decline may slow down in the second half of the year.

This is supported by figures from January that show a 4% year-on-year decline, with provisional figures from selected countries showing falls continued into February and March.

Most of the major producing member states are forecasting a decline in production. There are expected to be rises in piglet production in Denmark and the Netherlands, but these will be more than offset by further growth in weaner exports. This will help to support slaughterings in Germany and Poland, among others, which would otherwise decline noticeably.

The group also suggested a relatively optimistic outlook for EU pig prices, which have been depressed in late 2013 and early 2014. Even without the Russian market re-opening, prices are expected to increase in the second and third quarter of the year, although not reaching last year’s heights.

This is partly a seasonal development, as EU consumer demand increases and supplies tighten. However, it also reflects confidence about increased exports to Asian markets, given the likely shortage of US pork at competitive prices.

Prices are expected to remain firm in the fourth quarter, with no repeat of last year’s decline. With demand already robust, if the EU does start to export pork to Russia again, prices could easily rise by a further 10-15%.

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