EU pig meat production (excluding the UK) in November rose to 2.05 million tonnes, bringing production in the year to November to 21 million tonnes, 0.7% higher than at the same point in 2019, according to data from the European Commission.
This small increase comes against a background of disruption and uncertainty that no country has escaped.
Spanish production dominated the picture, underpinned by a strong export trade with slaughter in Spain increasing by 15% year on year in November alone.
Germany, in contrast, was hit by problems with African Swine Fever (ASF) in its wild boar herd and COVID-19 related processing capacity constraints, causing slaughter to fall by 6% (310,000 head) year on year in November. Production in Germany fell by nearly 3% (128,000 tonnes) in the year to November overall.
Italy has experienced even more severe declines, with production in the year to November falling by nearly 14% (180,000 tonnes).
Duncan Wyatt, lead analyst at AHDB, commented: “As a whole, the European market is amply supplied with pig meat, not least because Germany is temporarily unable to export to China, due to ASF. Prices have fallen dramatically as the market rebalances to find a home for approximately 45,000 tonnes a month of these German volumes.
The European Commission has recently published its medium-term outlook for agricultural markets, which indicated that in the short-term, demand for EU pig meat is expected to decline.
Mr Wyatt explained: “This is a result of anticipated recovery in China’s production levels, which will likely reduce import demand from Europe over the next year. EU pig meat production is expected to fall from a forecast 22.9 million tonnes in 2020, to 22.7 million tonnes in 2021. EU exports are expected to fall from a forecast 4.3 million tonnes in 2020, to 3.9 million tonnes in 2021.”