The latest pig production figures for EU member states indicate some tightening of supply in the early part of this year, although this could be only a temporary market factor, according to BPEX.
With 26 of the EU’s 28 member states now having reported their December 2014 census, combined returns show a 1% increase in the total pig herd, compared with December 2013.
“This is the first increase in the overall number of EU pigs since 2006, despite falling finished pig prices since July,” said BPEX.
“Looking in more detail, the number of pigs over 50kg being fed for slaughter was slightly down on the year, however, suggesting there would be some tightening of supply in early 2015. This is supported by market reports of limited finished pig numbers in recent weeks, which has given some support to prices.
“However, with numbers of piglets and younger feeding pigs higher in December, the tight supply situation may only be temporary.”
Key markets which recorded more pigs on the ground included the two largest herds, Germany and Spain, while Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland were among the other major producers recording increased pig numbers. In contrast, France and Romania reduced their herds, along with several smaller producers.
Spain’s 5% rise in production is the main driver of overall EU growth which would, without the Spanish contribution, have fallen by 1% on the year.
Looking deeper into 2015, BPEX added that supply is likely to remain ample in the medium term, with continuous improvements in productivity resulting in more piglets per sow being finished to higher carcase weights on relatively low-cost feed.
“There have been some reports of increased sow slaughterings in recent months, however, although these may have been too recent to be reflected in the December census figures,” said BPEX, adding that this could also result in some tightening of supplies towards the end of this year.