Wednesday, 1 September 2021
EU pig meat production is higher in the year so far, and much of the increase has been exported, despite challenges with African Swine Fever in Germany. EU domestic demand appears to be just about holding its own, but there are cracks appearing in demand for that exported product. It may take lower prices to help build demand again in the EU, and that’s what the market is now presenting.
For the first five months of the year, EU pork production totalled 9.9 million tonnes, which was 5% more than the same period a year ago. Clean pig slaughter was 4% higher year-on-year at 103.87 million head, indicating that carcase weights have been heavier.
The May figure for EU pig meat exports (including offal) was the lowest monthly total for the year so far, at 488,700 t. However, this was still 6% up on the same month last year and 21% higher than May 2019. Exports for the year are 19% higher (cwe) and include more exports to China. The US has not had the same experience; its volumes to that market have already fallen this year. Reports suggest that the Chinese market is also now becoming more difficult for EU exporters.
With exports weakening, production has been weighing on pig prices in Europe. In July, the EU commission forecast broadly stable meat availability in the EU this year. Some decline in beef and sheep meat use was expected to be offset by growth for pig meat (+1%). So far, production and trade data bear out this forecast, although reports of pig meat demand at retail are not hugely encouraging.
The EU market will again go through a transition period as foodservice outlets continue to reopen and out of home demand gains traction. The global pork market is set to become more competitive this year and next as China reduces its import demand, and that pork finds another home elsewhere. Feed prices remain high, and financial viability in the production sector is extremely challenged.
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