December pig census figures from 22 member states that between them account for around 90% of the breeding herd suggest that the number of sows across these countries was 2% lower in December 2013 than 12 months previously.
The Eurostat figures are reported in BPEX’s Pig Market Weekly, which suggests that in some cases the fall will have been casued by producers leaving the industry following the sow stall ban, which came into effect on the January 1, 2013.
However, the decline was smaller than in the previous three years, suggesting the trend in production could start to reverse later in 2014.
Among the key markets, declines were recorded in Germany (down 3%), Spain (down 2%), France (down 3%) and Poland (down 6%). In contrast, increased optimism in Denmark and the Netherlands allowed producers to expand, with 2% and 1% increases respectively.
The figures also show a 1% decrease in the overall pig herd compared with December 2012. Among the key producers, Denmark and Spain were the only countries to record increases, of 1% and 2% respectively.
Other smaller producers such as the Czech Republic also recorded increases, but they only account for a small share of overall pig numbers.
The increase recorded on Dutch and Danish farms was offset by lower pig numbers in Germany, Italy, France and Poland, among others.
These latest pig numbers indicate tight supplies in EU will continue, at least in the first half of this year.