Pork production in Poland fell by 1% in the first four months of 2019, compared to the same period last year, totalling 702,400 tonnes. This contrasts with the upward trend that had been in place since 2014.
The decline is not surprising. Some of the 5% increase last year was driven by an increase in slaughter as producers exited the industry. Low pig prices across Europe hit producer margins and ASF infections also became more prevalent.
ASF first emerged in Poland in 2014, affecting largely wild boar populations but also some domestic pigs. An increasing number of cases have been reported each year.
Herd numbers declined drastically over 2018, while total pig numbers fell by around 880,500 head (-7%) from December 2017 to 2018 to sit at a three year low.Sow populations declined 18%over this period, signalling a downturn in domestic pig production.
With such a large downturn in the domestic herd,live imports have prevented a larger decline in Polish pork production. Imports of live pigs under 50kg rose 27% in 2018, totalling 7.2 million head, with much of the stock of Danish origin. With ASF infecting large portions of the country, it would make sense to increase imports from non-affected areas as a short-term solution.
AHDB analyst Alex Cook said: “Weaner/store imports for Jan-April 2019 have eased 3%against last year. This might signify further falls in production later this year. The situation may not be sustainable in the longer term if sow populations continue to decline, as a greater need will be placed on imports.”
Despite the ASF crisis, Polishexports have continued to grow. Regulation zones have been set up to enable unaffected areas to continue trading within the EU and to some external countries.
Mr Cook added: “Exports of pig meat and offal rose by 2% to 827,600 tonnes in 2018, buoyed by the increases to production. The rise in exports has continued into this year with Jan-April up 4% from last year, reaching 287,600 tonnes, helped by tighter supply in Germany.”
Meanwhile, Reuters has reported that Bulgaria has detected another outbreak of African swine fever at a pig breeding farm near the north eastern city of Ruse, after the deadly virus was discovered earlier this month, the food safety agency said on Wednesday.
That was the 19th case in pigs in farms or backyards.
Alexandra Miteva, a senior official for Bulgaria’s food safety authority, said: “Another outbreak was detected at a large industrial farm in the village of Brashlеn with over 40,000 pigs.”
She said all pigs on the holding would be culled.
The Balkan country had reported on Saturday the first outbreak at an industrial farm, at another pig breeding farm also near Ruse. All pigs at that farm in the village of Nikolovo were culled.
Authorities have this week declared a state of emergency in Ruse and another district Pleven, in northern Bulgaria, where there have been outbreaks among home-raised pigs.