EU - Pig numbers are down across the EU, particularly for the breeding herd, indicating further declines in pig meat output in the region ahead, writes Jackie Linden. Exports are stable, imports continue to fall and the market appears to have seen the peak in pig meat prices.
The European Union pig meat has released its forecasts for the region in 2013 and 2014, based on the latest pig numbers from the EU member states and recent developments in the pig meat market, according to the German meat association, VDF.
In terms of the pig stock, the census in May-June shows a further decline in numbers of 0.9 per cent. This follows a 1.7 per cent fall since the previous count last winter.
Notable is the overall 2.5 per cent reduction in the number of sows across the EU, which follows a 3.5 per cent decline last autumn.
Pig meat production in 2012 fell by 1.8 per cent compared to the previous year to 22.135 million tonnes, while it is estimated output will fall again for 2013 by 0.7 per cent to 21.973 million tonnes.
Pig meat exports reached a record of 3.1 million tonnes in 2011, falling by two per cent the following year to around 3.0 million tonnes. For the current year, the situation is forecast to be stable or a slight reduction in export volumes. For the period January to August 2013, exports were 0.6 per cent below the same time-frame of the previous year.
The most important markets for EU pig meat are Russia and China, which account for 25 and 22 per cent of the total, respectively. An increase of 23 per cent in deliveries to China compensated for a reduction of around three per cent to Russia. Most destinations are taking less EU pig meat this year; notable exceptions are the Philippines (+37 per cent) and Angola (+6 per cent).
For imports, the latest figures for the period January to August 2013 reveal a continuation in declining volumes - down 7.2 per cent from the previous year. In 2011, imports of pig meat were 12 per cent the previous year at 38,200 tonnes and this fell by a further nine per cent in 2012 to 34,900 tonnes. More than half in the imports are from Switzerland, with Chile delivering around 20 per cent and Serbia, about seven per cent.
For 2012, prices rose faster than predicted, reaching more than €1.70 per kilo for class E animals. Continued increases in 2013 can the attributed to a combination of strong demand on world markets, stagnating production in the EU and rising feed costs. If the current trends continue, it is expected that the average price for 2013 will be €1.75 per kilo.
For the first six months of 2014, prices are expected to be slightly below the average for the same period of this year but to remain above the average for years 2010 to 2012, which stood at €1.69 and €1.71 per kilo for the first and second quarters, respectively.
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