According to the European Commission’s short-term outlook, EU pig meat production is forecast to increase by only 0.7% in 2021, a drop from the growth of 1.2% recorded in 2020.
“The December 2020 livestock survey indicates an increase in the number of fattening pigs of 750,000 head (+0.8%),” commented AHDB lead analyst Duncan Wyatt. “This is expected to lead to an increase in production in the first half of 2021. On the other hand, the number of sows fell by 0.5%, so any production growth in the latter part of the year will be driven entirely by performance gains.”
Exports of pig meat from the EU rose by 18% in 2020, with the largest share went to China, increasing its trade by around 1 million tonnes, despite difficulties with African Swine Fever cases in the German wild boar herd. Other EU member states plugged the gap left by German traders, although some are still facing similar export restrictions.
After two consecutive years of growth, exports in 2021 are expected to decrease by -2% but will remain at high levels relative to previous years.
New cases of ASF are still appearing in China which may slow down progress of the country’s recovery, but how this will impact remains to be seen. The recovery from ASF in other Asian regions is expected to take even more time.
Mr Wyatt added that the consumption of pig meat is projected to increase to 32.7kg per capita (+1.4%) in 2021 as more pig meat will be available on the domestic market which, although higher than 2020, is still a relatively low level in historic terms.