EU prices show upturn after weeks of decline

There has been a slight upturn in EU pig prices, following weeks of decline since early March.

The EU average price increased by just over €1 on the week, to stand at €159.42/100kg in the week ended May.

Following the previous week’s low, this was still the lowest price since April 2019 and €15 lower than the equivalent week last year though, AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins said.

“The slight upturn comes as European market reports indicate an improvement in both national and international meat sales,” she said.

“Underlying Asian demand remains strong, and some EU catering outlets are now reopening. Nonetheless, much of the continent still reports difficulties with backlogs of pigs, and with ongoing uncertainty around coronavirus developments, the market remains finely balanced.

“Further price increases can’t be guaranteed soon, and will partly depend on how management of COVID-19 fares over the coming weeks.”

Up to mid-May, prices has been plummeting across the EU – in contrast to the UK, where prices have continued to inch up – but the week ended May 24 showed improvement in some major pork producers.

EU Reference Prices (p/kg)  March 22        May 17           May 24 

EU (exc UK)                           172.20             139.60             142.53

Germany                                 180.37             146.40             150.95

Netherlands                             160.87             123.89             126.48

Denmark                                 184.57             158.48             159.71

Spain                                        174.68            143.25             142.03

Poland                                     166.89             123.90             133.29

UK                                          162.39             164.80             164.68

Prices movements in the latest week were varied between the major producing states.

The largest rise was in Poland, but prices in Germany also increased, which is significant as the German price is particularly influential, and may support some other countries in the coming week, Ms Wilkins said. Elsewhere prices were still falling, particularly in Spain.

While there have been reports of the EU-UK price differential drawing in cheaper imports, Ms Wilkins said the current differential is not historically large.

“With UK prices falling in euro terms, due to the weakening pound, the premium over the EU average fell to €24.78 in the latest week,” she said.

“This is still large in comparison to four weeks ago, when it was just €9, and of course, EU prices were above the UK for much of last year. However, in historic terms the price differential is not particularly large. Between 2014 and 2018, the difference between UK and EU pig prices was €25 on average.”

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.